Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cool Song

I'm kind of fascinated by old amusement parks (or more to the point, photos from old amusement parks). I never visited Palisades Park, but it was kind of famous because of the ads in DC comics (one of which appears in the video below), as well as the song by Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon (which begins about thirty seconds into this clip):

In Case You Were Wondering...

... who Clyfford Still (mentioned in the previous post) was, he was an abstract expressionist painter who did work like that seen above (more on display here). He donated a large number of his paintings to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in my hometown of Buffalo, NY, where I saw and came to like his work over the years. But I will admit, it's something of an acquired taste.

More Valley of Fire Photos

Here are a few more pictures that I took in the Valley of Fire down in Nevada. The scenery is quite stark, but also quite gripping.

It's interesting how your gaze can be held by the intricacies of the rock formations- not really all that different from staring into a fire.

Walking around the park, it's almost like walking around in a city, with different neighborhoods marked by different kinds of buildings. Only in this case, it's the rocks and landscape that differ.

The shot above makes me think that Clyfford Styll might've taken some inspiration from this place.

Words for Wednesday

Boy I miss Molly Ivins (1944-2007). We need way more people, especially in the media, pointing out obvious truths like this one:

"Government is just a tool, like a hammer.
There's nothing intrinsically good or evil
about the hammer; it all depends on
what it's used for and the skill with
which it is used."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cool Song

I really love Nina Simone's version of this song. I was surprised to find this version by a band I never heard of before, but whose lead singer (Sue Garner) was actually in another favorite group of mine, the Shams with Amy Rigby. If this isn't quite up to Nina's standard, it's still pretty darn good (with a little spacey noodling in the middle):

This Week's Top Five

This week was the annual "Guilty Pleasures" show on Dr. John's Record Shelf, and the Top Five kind of fit into that theme as well:

A Thought for Tuesday

H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was a writer of fantastic fiction. This is a line from his novel Allan Quartermain:

"Man's cleverness is almost indefinite, and stretches like an elastic band, but human nature is like an iron ring. You can go round and round it, you can polish it highly, you can even flatten it a little on one side, whereby you will make it bulge out the other, but you will NEVER, while the world endures and man is man, increase its total circumference."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Classic Tune

One of the greatest bop era songs (written by Bobby Timmons) performed by possibly the greatest contemporary jazz singer, Karrin Allyson. Really good stuff...

The Valley of Fire

On our last visit to Las Vegas, Rick, Bill and I checked out the Valley of Fire about forty miles northeast of the city. These photos were taken there. The picture above looks, to me, like a rocky chimp staring down a granite gorilla.

The terrain in the park ranges from flat desert to rocky canyons, which were inhabited thousands of years ago by native tribes who left behind petroglyphs etched into the stone, a number of which remain visible as in the next couple of images.

These rock etchings are very similar to cave paintings found in Europe, and speak to ancient man's desire to record something of their experiences.
After years of sun and wind (though not likely much rain), you wonder how much of this record has eroded away-- but it's still amazing to look at these rocks and realize that they were already pretty ancient when these markings were made.

The spot below is known as White Domes, and involves a rather steep hike down into a canyon where the film The Professionals with Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster was shot back in the 1960s. The two small structures you can make out more-or-less in the center of this photo are remnants of that production.

Once down in the canyon, there's a trail that loops back around the rocks on the right, which lead to the natural passageway seen below-- which is much like walking down a long, tall hallway, which leads out into a broad flat rocky plain. Next time I'll get some pictures up of that spot (and others from our visit).

Monday's Quote

A nice thought from the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888):

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest
aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look
up and see their beauty, believe in them, and
try to follow where they lead."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pretty Song

Eric Andersen isn't as well known as some of the other figures of the sixties folk scare, but he was near the top of the list in terms of talent. Here's one of his best songs, entitled "Violets of Dawn."

A Christmas List

As I have in past years, I thought I would post a list of some of the items I wouldn't mind finding under the Christmas Tree with my name on them this year. Maybe Santa reads my blog-- you never know. If anyone out there wants to share their own lists, feel free to post them in the comments section.

James Wolcott, Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York (Autobiography)
J. Hoberman, An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War (movies)
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia (movies)
Tim Jeal, Explorers of the Nile (History)
Tony Judt, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century (history)
Robert Pinsky, Thousands of Broadways: Dreams and Nightmares of teh American Small Town (history)
Beth Gates Warren, Artful Lives (Art history/biography)
Preston Lauterbach, The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock'n'Roll (Music)
Kevin Avery, Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson (Music/Biography)
Michael Freeman, The Photographer's Vision: Understanding and Appreciating Great Photography (Photography)
Rick Bass, Nashville Chrome (Fiction)
William M. Adler, The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times and Legacy of Joe Hill (Biography/history)
Chuck Eddy, Rock and Roll Always Forgets (Music)
Gary Giddins, Warning Shadows: Home Alone With Classic Cinema
Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation:The Making of Modern America 1877-1920 (history)
David Dunaway and Molly Beer, Singing Out (music)
John Raeburn, Ben Shahn's American Scene (art/photography)

White Material (Claire Denis, dir.)
Kes (Ken Loach, dir.)
Bored to Death: Complete First Season
Bored to Death: Complete Second Season
The Rockford Files: Season Six
Carlos (Olivier Assayas, dir.)
The Tree of Life (Terrance Malick, dir.)
The Monkees: Season 1 or 2
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: The Best of Season 2

Kasey Chambers, Little Bird (rock)
James Burton, The Early Years 1957-1969 (rock)
Tinariwen, Tassili (world/African)
Crooked Fingers, Breaks in the Armor (rock)
Mates of State, Mountaintops (rock)

I guess that's enough. Of course I can always use more memory cards for my camera too (I like Sandisk Ultra SDHC 4 or 8 gb).

Sunday Funnies

I believe that Stan Lynde, creator of Rick O'Shay & Hipshot, is a native Montanan-- which certainly comes across in strips like this one. I've been having a hard time finding more good examples of his work online, but it was hard to resist sharing this one from 1975.

Quote of the Day

It's a little sad, but I think novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) got this right:

"He who wants to persuade should put his
trust not in the right argument, but in the
right word. The power of sound has always
been greater than the power of sense."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Golden Oldie

One could make the argument that all theatrical rock acts-- Alice Cooper, Kiss, Marilyn Manson, even Lady Gaga-- can be traced back to the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and this song/performance in particular:

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Anyone else remember The Aardvark and the Ant? It was filler on the Pink Panther cartoon show of the late sixties and seventies. I think that the best thing about this particular example may be the music, provided by some true jazz legends including Shelly Manne and Ray Brown. Check it out:

A Saturday Quote

An astute observation from the Renaissance scientist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642):

"Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue concerning them, while on the other hand to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgement upon anything new."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Good Band

Someone recommended Deer Tick to me, based on my affection for the Replacements. I finally got around to listening to their recent album and while I see the connection, they clearly aren't imitators, and I enjoyed it very much. Here's a live version of the lead cut:

Friday Family Blogging Quiz

Here's one that anybody can play (just use your imagination): what was Emma eating when this picture was taken? Put your answers in the comments section.

Last week, I asked who was cropped out of a picture of Tom, and Sally apparently remembered that it was Nik and Helen (I say remembered because it was in fact she who took the picture, according to Liz). Good luck to all this week!

Soup Diary 111125

In an odd coincidence, every opportunity for soup on my recent trip to the Great Northwest, the only option offered was something with chicken. That's not a huge problem, as I like most chicken-based soups, but it did get a little tired after awhile. Probably the most interesting was the mulligatawny I had at the Brown Point Diner above Puget Sound just northeast of Tacoma. It's a chicken and curry deal, with a slight ginger flavor. I think that traditionally it also includes apples, but this version left that out, though it was still pretty good. I'm worried though that I may be turning into something of a soup snob because when I asked what the soup of the day was, the waiter felt the need to explain to me exactly what mulligatawny is, apparently assuming I did not know. I managed to keep my indignation in check this time, but how soon before I explode at some future unknowing server who presumes to lecture me (me!) about soup? I mean, the very idea! Humph!

More Friday Family Blogging

I spent a good part of the day before Thanksgiving at the Tacoma Art Museum, which always has something new and cool every time I visit (much like the Burchfield-Penney Art Gallery in Buffalo). I was joined by Joseph, Maria and Thomas, and I enjoyed taking pictures of them appreciating the artworks.

By the way, the glitter on Maria's face came from a reflection off of a sculpture of a giant glass pineapple.

Friday Family Blogging

Since his Grandmother wanted to see a picture of college man Gerik-- here he is. I have to say that it was my impression that college agrees with him, though his Mom seemed to think he got a little thin while away at school.

Friday Philosophy

Today we have a quote from the novelist Willa Cather (1873-1947):

"One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions
that will make happiness; one only stumbles
upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the
world's end somewhere, and hold fast to the
days, as to fortune or fame."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Song

Okay, I know that Ernest Tubb is offering a kind of sarcastic thanks here, but if you ignore the verses and focus on the choruses, it might contribute tot he holiday spirit:

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody

I hope everyone has plenty to be thankful for today, including lots of great food, conversation and company over the holidays. The Toonerville Folks will be back here next week.

A Thanksgiving Quote

From the pen of the English poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909):

"From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Genre Is This?

The short answer is this is cool music: a contemporary Hispanic rock band (Los Straitjackets) playing a classic swing tune (made famous by Benny Goodman) in a distinctly garage rock style, while wearing wrestling masks. Check it out:

A Trip to the Olympic Peninsula

My sister Lizzie and I drove up to Port Townsend yesterday, on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. It's a quaint little town, retaining a nineteenth century feel mixed with the features of a working seaport. We wandered around a bit, and these are a few pictures I took on our visit. The first one, above, is actually a house at a place called Port Gamble.

You can kind of see thee sound in the background (or is it the channel?) If I recall, the pretty building on the corner was an old hotel.

Another of the neat old buildings in the town, this one housed a clothing store on the first floor. I wonder if it wasn't a larger department store in an earlier incarnation.

This was part of the window display in one of the several bookstores we passed by, each of which seemed to specialize in collectible old children's books (among other things).

Driftwood sculpture down near the water-- this end of the log featured carved seals, while in the middle there was a carved out bench (though it was much too cold and windy yesterday to really enjoy a sit-down in that spot).

The Maritime Center appeared to be closed when we walked by, but it definitely looked worthy of a visit at some point in the future (maybe in the summertime).

The real highlight of our little daytrip was a visit with my cousin Anne Marie-- who I hadn't seen in about fifteen years-- and her two boys Carlton and Quinton. We had a lunch that lasted at least a couple of hours and shared lots of great stories about each other and various family members and friends. I sure hope it isn't another fifteen years before we can do it again.

Words for Wednesday

Here's something that I've never really thought much about, but apparently the English man-of-letters Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) did, and he had this to say on the topic:

"Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to which they have been accustomed. You see the inhabitants of Norway do not with one consent quit it, and go to some part of America, where there is a mild climate, and where they may have the same produce from land, with the tenth part of the labor. No, Sir; their affection for their old dwellings, and the terror of a general change, keep them at home. Thus, we see many of the finest spots in the world thinly inhabited, and many rugged spots well inhabited."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Klassic Kinks

Here's a great song of the classic album Something Else by the Kinks:

Soup Diary 112111

There's this diner in Spokane in a kind of seedy neighborhood that I guess you might call a dive-- but I've only ever had really good meals there. Passing through last week, I went in for dinner and had a nice chicken fried steak-- with a cup of soup, of course. It was Chicken Gnocchi, which I would describe as an Italian version of matzo ball soup. But this was much better than any matzo soup I've had in the past (it always seems a bit watery to me, but that may just be the places I've had it, a list that does not include a true Jewish deli). The gnocchi soup seemed richer, though in the end it was really just a nice variation on chicken noodle. I might also mention that the dinner came with an unexpected diversion (I hesitate to call it entertainment) as some guy at the bar was having a loud conversation on his cellphone with the police. I gathered that he had some beef with his father-in-law, and was trying to get him arrested. It really did seem like the kind of conversation that old-fashioned phone booths were designed for, but I can't remember the last time I saw one of those.

Monday's Quote

I'm not sure I agree with this statement, but I'm not surprised that Andy Warhol (1927-1987) would say it:

"It's the movies that have really been running
things in America ever since they were invented.
They show you what to do, how to do it, when to
do it, how to feel about it, and how to look how
you feel about it."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Request

This song was requested a short time on my radio show, so I thought I'd make it even more widely available by posting it here. Sadly, Johnny Preston passed away fairly recently, but I'm sure he'll be long remembered for this song:

Family Blogging Quiz

In this picture Tom is watching a movie-- but who is watching along with him? Or, to out it another way, who did I crop out of this picture? Put your answers in the comments section.

Last week, I asked you to identify a large open mouth, and my current hostess Liz was able to correctly recognize that it belonged to Raechelle. Good luck to all this week!

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This week's cartoon was suggested by Liz, and it's a great selection-- classic Bugs Bunny with a cameo by... well, I'll let you be surprised:

One More

Here's one last picture from Lizzie's collection. Doesn't Helen look glamorous? Sally looks pretty good too, but she doesn't have quite the same flair (in this pic).

More Family Blogging

Here's another photo from Lizzie's collection-- Emma and Theresa from this past October. They certainly have matching smiles.

Friday Family Blogging (on Saturday)

Since I didn't get to a computer yesterday, I'm a day behind. But the plus-side of that is that I'm at my Lil Sis' house and she has some photos she's letting me share with you today. She picked this one of Nik because in it, he looks a lot like Gerik (well, not Gerik today exactly, college man that he is, but from a few years ago).

Saturday's Quote

I've been on the road for a couple of days, so it put me in mind of this quote from Mark Twain (1835-1910):

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pretty Song

Wilco is one of my favorite bands, and I especially like it when they rock out. But their slow stuff can certainly get under your skin too, which is the case (for me) with this tune:

Toonerville Thursday

Aunt Eppie Hogg was another one of the colorful characters who inhabited Toonerville. Somehow I don't think a cartoonist today would get away with depicting someone of such ample girth.

Thursday's Thought

An astute observation from the well-known journalist Russell Baker:

"Inanimate objects can be classified scientifically into three major categories: those that don't work, those that break down and those that get lost. The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately to defeat him, and the three major classifications are based on the method each object uses to achieve its purpose. As a general rule, any object capable of breaking down at the moment when it is most needed will do so."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Classic Jazz

This song actually broke through into the pop charts at a time when jazz had mostly disappeared from the mainstream, namely in the mid 1960s. It still sounds really good to me today:

The Last Movie I Saw

The Mill and the Cross (directed by Lech Majewski) is one of the most beautifully photographed movies I've ever seen, which makes sense since both its theme and narrative revolve around images. To take the latter first, it very broadly tells the story of the creation of Pieter Bruegel the elder's masterpiece "The Road to Calvary," one of the great works of the sixteenth century. But it does so in a most interesting way, letting the events of Bruegel's village unfold around him as he designs and executes his painting. So we see components of the daily life in the valley-- whose landscape is dominated by a rocky hill with a windmill perched on top-- including children awaking in the morning, the miller testing his meal, a young couple courting, and the dreaded inquisitors who seem to randomly abuse anyone who unfortunately crosses their path. The dialogue is minimal, as the viewer is allowed to absorb these and other elements of the setting, many of which become incorporated into Bruegel's painting or, in some cases, reveal something that is going on behind the scenes of the artwork (for example, what happens inside the mill, which appears in the distant background of the picture). The result is to add additional depth to what actually appears on the canvas, as the movie provides a kind of backstory that would likely have been immediately apparent to sixteenth century viewers of the painting, but is almost entirely alien to a contemporary audience. The fact that the painting purports to depict a scene from the New Testament is of course a kind of misdirection common to that era's art-- the inclusion of a wheel used to torture accused heretics signals that this is really a comment on current events, and a subtle criticism of the inquisitors who terrorize the common folk. I don't mean to suggest that watching the movie is necessary for appreciating the painting, but it does serve as a wonderful complement, and in the end stands on its own as a fascinating example of visual creativity.

Words for Wednesday

I can't help but think there's considerable truth in this statement by Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989):

"Revolution is not something fixed in ideology,
nor is it something fashioned to a particular
decade. It is a perpetual process embedded
in the human spirit."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Great Song

"At the Crossroads" is one of my favorite Sir Douglas Quintet songs. This version is from an appearance on Austin City Limits in the mid seventies:

This Week's Top Five

Usually I let the crack staff compile the Top Five List for Dr. John's Record Shelf, but in this case it was all mine. Check it out:

Tuesday's Thought

A clever insight from the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940):

"Genius goes around the world in its youth
incessantly apologizing for having large feet.
What wonder that later in life it should be
inclined to raise those feet too swiftly to
fools and bores."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cool Song

Back in the early eighties I worked in downtown Manhattan and often spent my lunch hour hanging around the J&R Music store across Park Row from City Hall. Whether I actually bought anything or not was entirely beside the point, because their staff had the greatest taste in picking stuff to play in-store. It was there that I first heard REM, Los Lobos, the Replacements, and lots more-- including this record by the Long Ryders. In fact I still remember going over to the counter to examine the sleeve. The rest of the ep turned out to be pretty great too!

Pictures of Berlin

I've been going back through some photos I took in Germany last year. These are some that I kind of like.