Monday, October 31, 2011

A Favorite Song

This is one of my favorite songs by the band Rilo Kiley, and the video was shot somewhere in the Mojave Desert (though pretty clearly not at Red Rocks Canyon, which is also in the Mojave). Because of that, it seemed appropriate to put up as a followup to the pictures in my previous post.

Pictures from Red Rocks

On past visits to Red Rocks Canyon outside of Las Vegas, it was hard to force my attention away from the mountains that dominate the landscape. But on a recent visit I decided to also take a look and snap some pictures of the other feature of that landscape-- the desert.

Of course the desert has it's own stark beauty, especially in contrast to the surrounding peaks and colorful rocks. Since I was also testing another new lens, it was fun to play around a bit with depth-of-field, integrating the foreground and background in different ways (as in the top two photos).

The last two pictures were more about capturing detail, contrasting rocks with flora. One thing is for certain: this was a radically different terrain/subject than the pictures I've been taking in recent weeks closer to home in the Pioneer Mountains and Big Hole Valley.

Monday's Quote

An insightful comment from the hardnosed newspaperman and screenwriter Ben Hecht (1894-1964):

"I know that a man who shows me his wealth
is like the beggar who shows me his poverty;
they are both looking for alms from me, the
rich man for the alms of my envy, the poor
man for the alms of my guilt."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Great Song

I remember the first time I listened to Astral Weeks when I was about 19 or 20, and I thought it was incredibly dull. But I gave it another chance a few yeas later, and that time it really kicked in. Clearly the album is one of the greatest of the rock era, and this is one of my favorite songs from the collection:

Sunday Funnies

I've been trying to find some Skippy strips to share for quite awhile. These are the only two available from the I Love Comix Archive, and I figured rather than wait for more I'd go ahead and put these up (you might check back occasionally at that link for others if you like these). Percy Crosby is one of those artists who deserves more acclaim than he seems to get, at least as far as web presence is concerned. Skippy was almost certainly an influence on Charles Schulz's Peanuts, and many other kid-oriented strips over the years. But few of them (maybe Schulz) has surpassed Crosby's masterpiece.

A Sunday Quote

Here's an interesting line from the renowned story teller William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry (1862-1910):

"All of us have to be prevaricators, hypocrites, and
liars every day of our lives; otherwise the social
structure would fall into pieces the first day. We
must act in one another's presence just as we
must wear clothes. It is for the best."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good Song

Here's a catchy tune by a band I just recently discovered called Real Estate. The video part is kind of fun too.

Friday Family Blogging Quiz (on Saturday)

Believe it or not, this picture was taken over four years ago. The question for you is, where was it taken? Put your guesses in the comments section (and try to be as specific as possible).

Last week, I asked you to identify who was cropped out of a photo of Theresa, Sally & Nick, and Mom got it right off the bat: it was Sally's dog Pilgrim (and taken near the overlook o0f the Columbia River on I-90). Thanks to all who played, and be sure to get your guesses in this week.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

When I was a kid, all of my friends and I could do credible impressions of Snagglepuss. Among the six year old set, this was kind of the equivalent of comedians who did Ed Sullivan. Anyway, here's one of the pink lion's cartoons that inspired us back then:

More Family Blogging

This isn't exactly a Halloween picture, but it was as close to one that I could find after a quick look this morning in a couple of my photo files. I wonder if Natalie and Tom are planning to go trick-or-treating together this year?

Friday Family Blogging (on Saturday)

I was on the road yesterday and got home too late to do any posting, but I wanted to make sure I didn't neglect the usual Friday traditions. So here's a picture of Mom and Nick taken on one of our many visits to Gramma's house. Hard to believe this was thirty odd years ago!

Another Music Quote

Today's observation comes from the eminent conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990):

"Music, because of its specific and far-reaching
metaphorical powers, can name the unnamable
and communicate the unknowable."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Great Song

The Morning After Girls are a band out of Australia. Aside from that I only know that I really liked their first album, off which this cut was taken:

Toonerville Thursday

Boy I'm glad I don't have to contend with the Terrible Tempered Mr. Bang in real life; but I generally get a chuckle out of his fuming in these brief visits to Toonerville.

Thursday's Thought

Continuing our series of quotes on music, here's naturalist John Muir (1838-1914):

"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A True Standard

There are a million versions of this song, but I doubt you can find a better one than this by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan (I only wish there was real video to accompany the recording):

The Big Hole Valley

Last Saturday I spent a pleasant couple of hours at the Big Hole National Battlefield, the site of a famous clash between the army and some Nez Perce Indians back in 1877. This may have been my last chance to get out and shoot some fall colors, and I think these turned out pretty well.

As you can probably tell, the sunshine was a bit intermittent, but when it was out, the colors were quite nice.

Above and below are a couple of different perspectives on the same snow-capped mountain off to the south, the name of which I sadly do not know. I have a feeling that the by the next time I get out this way, the snow will have come to the valley as well.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

We're focusing on music with our quotes this week. Here's one from the French man -of-letters (among other things) Jean Cocteau (1889-1963):

"All good music resembles something.
Good music stirs by its mysterious
resemblance to the objects and
feelings which motivated it."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Great Mekons

I love the Mekons-- they've been making high quality rock and roll for well over thirty years and show no sign of letting up (their newest just came out a couple weeks ago). Here's a song from very early on in their career (I think their second single). Hope you like it:

This Week's Top Five

This Top Five list from Dr. John's Record Shelf started out as one thing and kind of evolved into something else due to the contribution of Art Vandalay... well, you can hear for yourself:

Tuesday's Quote

This week is devoted to quotes about music, and here's one from the noted English conductor Thomas Beechum (1879-1961) who presumably knew a thing or two about the subject:

"Great music is that which penetrates
the ear with facility and leaves the
memory with difficulty. Magical
music never leaves the memory."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cool Cover

The Byrds are one of my favorite sixties bands, and Buddy Holly is right near the top of the list for favorite fifties rockers. So you can imagine how much I enjoy this version of Holly's "Not Fade Away" by the Byrds-- a lot:

The Last Book I Read

Nick Tosches is one of the great stylists among writers who write about popular music. His Country: The Biggest Music in America, Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story, The Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll, and Dino are first rate for both cultural insight and entertainment value. So I was really looking forward to his latest, a take on the links between organized (and not-so-organized) crime and the music industry in the period immediately preceding the British Invasion, called Save the Last Dance for Satan. It certainly scores in terms of entertainment value, but I kind of miss any real insight on the topic, which is laid out in rather sketchy fashion. This may be a consequence of this short book being an expanded magazine essay, as the stories feel a bit haphazard, and there's little effort to really cover the topic in anything more than anecdotal form. To be fair, while Tosches is certainly capable of longer and deeper form narrative (Dino, his biography of Dean Martin certainly falls into that category) Last Dance seems to have emerged from impromptu conversations that may not have been intended as research, resulting in a kind of ad hoc work. Anyway, I'd offer a qualified recommendation of the book-- Tosches' blunt, even hardboiled style is always a treat to read, but it's a whole lot more satisfying when he really digs into his topic, which doesn't always seem to be the case here.

A Quote for Monday

Great quotes about music seem to come from the unlikeliest sources, as with this from the renowned physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955):

"If I were not a physicist, I would probably
be a musician. I often think in music. I live
my daydreams in music. I see my life in
terms of music... I do know that I get
most joy in life out of my violin."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Classic Country

This is pretty cool: actual footage of Jimmie Rodgers singing "Waiting for a Train." This guy was the first big crossover star, appealing to pop and even jazz audiences at a time when musical genres were strictly segregated in the marketplace. From this performance, you can see why:

Sunday Funnies

Another classic from the pen of Charles Schulz. This is almost exactly how I felt about Autumn when I was a kid (though I don't recall talking to myself about it).

Sunday's Quote

I've decided to offer another week of quotes about music (since it went over so well the last time I did it). So. let's launch the series with this from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a German theologian and notable resistor to Nazism:

"Music ... will help dissolve your perplexities
and purify your character and sensibilities,
and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a
fountain of joy alive in you."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cool Song

This is a great driving around song. I know because it came on the radio when I was out for a ride this morning and even though I've heard it a bunch of times before, it just really kicked in for me this time. I realize you probably aren't driving around while you read this, but you might enjoy it in front of the computer too...

Saturday Morning Cartoon

I don't recall ever featuring Porky Pig in this space, so let's go ahead and fix that right now. This must go back to the late 1930s, when trains were the dominant form of transportation in this country. There's some really weird shots in this one, showing the strong directorial hand of Frank Tashlin who would eventually move on to live action features (that often looked like cartoons).

Quote of the Day

I offer the following claiming neither to agree or disagree, but to perhaps solicit a chuckle or even a little thought. It's from the famed musical provocateur Frank Zappa (1940-1993):

"Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because
it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the
universe. I dispute that. I say that there is more
stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic
building block of the universe."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Great Song

I'm not sure which version of this song I like best (there are a bunch of them), but this one is surely near the top of the list. The Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons on lead vocals...

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

Okay, time to put on your thinking caps: who did I crop out of the above photo? That is, who was with Theresa, Sally and Nick when I took this shot? Put your guesses in the comments section.

Last week, I asked whose knee was in the background of a shot of Ben. There were only two guesses (let's see if we can get a bit more participation this week, by the way), but luckily one of them got it right: Catie correctly identified Theresa's knee. Good luck to everyone this week!

Norman Corwin, RIP

To my way of thinking, Norman Corwin was one of the greatest American artists ever. His radio work in the 1940s especially marked him as a one-of-a-kind talent, and it's unfortunate that small-minded bigots contributed to pushing this true patriot off the airwaves back during the McCarthy era. One need only listen to his World War II era broadcasts to know that this was someone who understood fully what it meant to be an American, and was proud to promote those values to a mass audience. He belongs in very select pantheon of true media heroes with Lincoln Steffens, Edward R. Murrow, Bill Mauldin and maybe a couple of others. You can listen to what was probably his most famous broadcast-- "We Hold These Truths"-- at this link. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Happy Birthday Eileen!

Tomorrow is my sister-in-law Eileen's birthday, and I want to be among the first wish her many happy returns! I hope you have a really great day!

Friday Family Blogging

Doesn't Sara have the kind of face that you expect to see inside a frame?

Friday Philosophy

A great thought, nicely expressed by the English playwright Tom Stoppard:

"Because children grow up, we think a child's
purpose is to grow up. But a child's purpose is
to be a child. Nature doesn't disdain what lives
only for a day. It pours the whole of itself into
the each moment. We don't value the lily less
for not being made of flint and built to last."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pretty Song

Dean Wareham been making great music for many years, first with Galaxie 500, then Luna and now in partnership with Britta Phillips. This is one of my favorites by the latter duo:

Toonerville Thursday

It turns out the tradesmen of Toonerville are every bit as idiosyncratic as the rest of the town's inhabitants.

A Thought for Thursday

I'm not sure I entirely buy the premise of this quote from the painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917), but it's an interesting notion nonetheless:

"A picture is a thing which requires as much
knavery, as much malice, and as much vice
as the perpetration of a crime. Make it
untrue and add an accent of truth."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Klassic Kinks

This one of my favorite Kinks songs-- though to be honest, that's a long, long list. This is from the tail end of their golden age (the next album after the one with "Lola" on it). Enjoy:

Four Pictures: San Juan Capistrano

It's starting to get cold in Montana, so my mind is wandering to warmer climes. About a year and a half ago I visited the old Spanish mission at San Juan Capistrano down in southern California, and it was definitely warm there, so I'm posting a few of the pictures I took.

As you can tell, it was a brilliantly sunny day when I was there, and the gardens in the Mission were bursting with color.

I suspect things weren't always so lush-- that some of this magnificent gardening came about to attract tourists. But so what. It's a lovely place and I hope I get a chance to return (like the swallows) some day. In the meantime, these pictures remind me of a wonderful day out in the sunshine.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) was an American clergyman who was born in Buffalo, NY (just like me), and gained some fame in the first half of the twentieth century. This quote gives you some idea of his philosophy:

"No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No
stream or gas drives anything until it is confined.
No Niagara is ever turned into light and power
until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great
until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rock and Roll

The Cocktail Slippers are a girl group out of Sweden, discovered by Little Stephen, and now recording on his Wicked Cool label. I especially like this video, because it's like a three and a half minute visit to NYC:

This Week's Top Five

From last Sunday's edition of Dr. John's Record Shelf, here is this week's Top Five. With football season in full swing, we were put in mind of crisp autumn afternoons back east...

A Quote for Tuesday

Today's quote comes from the minister and activist William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (1924-2006):

"In our time all it takes for evil to flourish
is for a few good men to be a little wrong
and have a great deal of power, and for
the vast majority of their fellow citizens
to remain indifferent."

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Blast From the Past

This is one of those songs that transports me back in time to when I was about ten years old and just discovering Top Forty radio. Anyone else remember this one?

The Last Movie I Saw

I think that The Guard might be the most purely entertaining movie I've seen in a long time. All the elements clicked, contributing to a full package that combined action, comedy and drama in a most original narrative. It's a story about a member of the provincial guard who represents the law in some small coastal town in eastern Ireland. His district is so remote, that it attracts the attention of a gang of drug smugglers who think they can operate there without detection. But the provincial cop is more canny than they suspect, in fact more canny than his superiors or colleagues suspect. Brendan Gleeson plays the lead with a sly goofiness, which disarms the audience as much as his adversaries in the film. Don Cheadle makes a great foil, playing an American FBI agent collaborating in the effort to nab the bad guys. Director John Michael McDonagh employs a visual style that reminds me of Bill Forsyth's early effort That Sinking Feeling, which also shares a thematic link with this film: that moral lines are often subject to negotiation. What makes these movies special is that they don't allow their main characters to drift too far over the line. Gleeson's character is no anti-hero, just a guy who refuses to allow what others think to inhibit his own actions, either personal or professional. Recognizing that corruption touches on everything, he's able to shrug it off when the effects are inconsequential or even beneficial, but becomes duly enraged when something important is at stake. The movie is the opposite of preachy, but in the end manages to make a statement about the importance of doing the right thing, and that combination is rare. Check it out if you get the chance.

Monday's Quote

Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was one of the great philosophes of eighteenth century France, and a leading figure in the Enlightenment. The following is a small sample of his thought:

"A thing is not proved just because no one has ever questioned it. What has never been gone into impartially has never been properly gone into. Hence skepticism is the first step toward truth. It must be applied generally, because it is the touchstone."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good Song

Dwight Yoakam helped usher in the 1980s country revival (with Steve Earle, Randy Travis and a couple others) that was a big factor in launching the movement. Here he is with a great rendition of the old Elvis Presley classic "Little Sister."

Sunday Funnies

When I was a kid, I always enjoyed the adventures of Ferd'nand by Mik, not the least because I could "read" it before I could read. Here are a few examples of the great pantomime strip, courtesy of the I Love Comix Database.

Sunday's Quote

I think it's safe to say that Charles Darwin (1809-1882) more than met the standard of accomplishment implied by his statement below:

"Doing what little one can to increase the general
stock of knowledge is as respectable an object of
life, as one can in any likelihood pursue."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Classic Replacements

For my money, the Replacements were the greatest band coming out of the eighties. Here's a video of one of their best songs, paying tribute to power pop icon Alex Chilton (sorry for the ad-- it wasn't there when I first looked at this):

The Replacements Alex Chilton by Celtiemama

Saturday Morning Cartoon

How often does a villain in one show get their own spinoff series? While remaining a bad guy!? Well it happened when Dick Dastardly and Muttley moved from Wacky Races to their own show Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. Thematically, it's kind of a variation on the Roadrunner cartoons... as you can see in this eample from 1969:

A Quote for Saturday

John Dewey (1859-1952) kind of got at the heart of learning with this comment from his book Democracy and Education (1916):

"Any experience, however, trivial in its
first appearance, is capable of assuming
an indefinite richness of significance by
extending its range of perceived

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cool Song

I'm going to dedicate this to my sister Sally. This is one of the weirdest songs from the pre-Beatles era of rock and roll, yet I'd be hard-pressed to say exactly what makes it so weird. It just has this ethereal quality, like the indistinct soundtrack of a half-remembered dream. Check it out:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

There are a lot of questions I could ask about this picture (like, what's the deal with Ben's hair? his expression? his pose?), but the official question this week is: whose blue jean clad knee is that just below Ben's left fist? Put your guesses (you can take a shot at those other questions too) in the comments section.

Last week, I asked who was alongside Helen, also enjoying an ice cream cone, and Mom guessed Natalie (amongst a spate of other names) so she gets credit for the "win" this week. Helen's dad Dan was the person on the other side. Good luck to all this week!