Thursday, May 31, 2012

Great Song

It's been way too long since I featured a tune by the great Joni Mitchell.  Here's a really good one...

Toonerville Thursday

Aunt Eppie Hogg was just one more of the eccentric folks that made Toonerville such a fun place to visit on the funny pages.   

A Thought for Thursday

An astute observation from the pen of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945):

"Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into 
thinking that they can provide security and freedom from 
anxiety. Yet all the time they are the very source of anxiety."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cool Song

Darker My Love is about my favorite current band, and it seems like they are due for a new record. In the meantime, here's one of there better older tunes:

A Few More Pictures of Vancouver

Another view of the ultra-modernistic Vancouver skyline, this time looming up behind the marina.  It seems like virtually all of the buildings there were built in the last twenty years or so-- all glass and sharp angles in the designs.

This view is from roughly the same spot, but looking to the left rather than to the right as in the first shot above.

One of the neat features I discovered in Stanley Park-- the Totem Garden. Below is another look at North Vancouver , out past the lighthouse on the eastern point of Stanley Park.

More Pictures of Vancouver

Some more images collected on my recent visit to Vancouver, BC.  I posted a group photo of the laughing men a week or so ago; this close-up gives you a better idea of just how much fun they were having. 

I took this picture on a lake in Stanley Park, the name of which I've forgotten.  As I recall, it was set aside as a wildlife refuge and, though they aren't visible here, there were lots of birds around.

The skyline of downtown Vancouver was quite striking in this view from the eastern tip of Stanley Park.

This is another view from Stanley Park, this one looking across the strait to the skyline of North Vancouver, and the mountains behind.

Happy Birthday Catie!

All the best to my little sister Mary Catherine today on the anniversary of her birth!  I have vague recollections of sitting in the car outside the hospital waiting for Dad to bring Mom and the baby out from the hospital (kids weren't allowed in back then), and being really thrilled with my new baby sister-- and I still feel the same way today.  I hope you have a really great day Catie!  

A Tuesday Thought

Here's some aggressive advice from the French playwright Jean Anouilh (1910-1987):

 "Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute! 
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. 
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated. 
Begin, and then the work will be completed."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Classic Duke

Here's another standard from the Duke Ellington repertoire.  "It Don't Mean a Thing" was first recorded about ten years before this version.  Playing it all those years on the road no doubt meant the band had really honed this one to a fine groove...

A Worthwhile Read

Mark Evanier has a good post up here, quoting a Thomas Friedman New York Times piece on so-called Obamacare (and other aspects of Obama as president).  I would have linked directly to the Friedman piece (which Evanier does), except I thought Evanier's added comments were also worth reading.  I'm not really a fan of Friedman, who strikes me as out-of-touch on a lot of things, but he's largely on target with this particular analysis. 

Sunday's Quote

I don't know if the writer Leo Rosten (1908-1997) was right in this observation, but it's worth thinking about a little:

"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Classic Ellington

I'm reading a biography of Duke Ellington for a review, so naturally I've also been searching out some of the music to serve as background.  Here's one of the songs I've discovered that I kind of like:

Yet More Friday Family Blogging

It's been quite awhile since I posted a baby picture, so here's one of Nik.  That's a nice bright smile for such a little guy!

More Friday Family Blogging

Anyone remember Ben ever looking quite so dapper as he does in this shot?

Friday Family Blogging

I'm wondering if there's a story behind this picture of Lizzie.  I didn't take it, but it somehow wound up with a bunch of my photos. Anybody have any ideas?

Friday Philosophy

Good advice from the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804):

"Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, 
whether in your own person or in the person of 
any other, never simply as a means but always 
also as an end."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Great Song

The Spinners were one of the best soul vocal groups of the 1970s.  This is one of their best songs:

Toonerville Thursday

I like that the kids of Toonerville are every bit as colorful as the grown-ups!

A Thought for Thursday

I totally agree with maestro Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) on this point:

"Any great work of art ... revives and re-adapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world - the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cool Song

I don't know if the world demanded this, but the world certainly deserves it: a bluegrass version of "King Tut."

Some More Pictures of Vancouver

Above you can see some of the armada of tankers I mentioned in the previous post, viewed through some of the lovely flora adorning Stanley Park.

Speaking of flora, here's one of the lovely gardens that dot the park. Lots of flowers were blooming when I was there. 

Where you find flora, there is usually also some fauna-- note the birds in the upper left and lower right of this picture.  The fountain's kind of nice too.  As is the statuary, like the jocular crowd below.

Some Pictures of Vancouver

The last major stop on my circuit of the Pacific Northwest was Vancouver, BC, where I spent a wonderful day mostly wandering around Stanley Park. The Park sits on a large peninsula in the center of the city, which sticks out into what I believe is Georgia Strait, and affords all manner of picturesque vistas of the city and the surrounding mountains and waterways.  Above is the southwest corner of the park that adjoins the edge of downtown Vancouver.

There's a beautiful beach stretching out from that same SW corner pictured above.  I'm guessing that in the summer, this place is packed, and the bordering neighborhood has lots of restaurants and small shops to make the rea doubly attractive to tourists.

Here's a view of the beach from the other end, giving a nice view of both the high-rise apartment buildings near the Park and also the mountains in the distance.  Below, another perspective of Stanley Park, with a big tanker looming off the coast (there were actually quite a lot of those ships out there).

A Tuesday Thought

I kind of think this quote applies to the Chelsea squad I mentioned here, as well as many championship athletes.  It was uttered by the immortal Muhammad Ali, who would presumably know a great deal about the subject:

"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."

Monday, May 21, 2012

The "Chip Chip" Song

In the previous post, I mentioned that Natalie and I would sometimes serenade Chipper Jones when he came to bat for the Braves back in the nineties.  Son of a gun if I didn't find a copy of the original song posted to YouTube. We did it without the poodle references:

A Nice Tribute

As an Atlanta Braves fan, it is going to be a bittersweet season this year, as the team's longtime star third baseman Chipper Jones has announced his retirement at the end of the season.   He's been a mainstay of the team since the mid-nineties, and continues to be a productive player at 40 years of age.  I don't know if she'd remember this, but when I babysat my niece Natalie when she was very small, she'd watch Braves games sometimes with me, and we'd sing "Chip, Chip, Chip, Chip, Chip, Chip, C'mon!" when he came to bat (some of you might recognize that as a lyric to an old Slim Gaillard song).  Anyway, as he makes his way around the league one last time, a lot of the opponents are giving him tributes.  This week, the team is in Cincinnati, and they've come up with a really nice homage, which you can read about here.  Kudos to the Reds for a classy gesture for a classy player.

Soup Diary 120521

I had a couple of interesting cups of soup on my recent trip, one that was unsurprisingly good, and one that was surprisingly disappointing.  The first, a chicken and roasted red pepper was very creamy with a slight buttery flavor. Along with the chunks of chicken there were a few cheese tortellinis mixed in as well, which were a pleasant addition.  The disappointment was a Mexican Avocado (similar to that in the picture above), which had a decent peppery flavor, but little hint of the titular avocado (which is what I craved as soon as I saw it on the menu). It was somewhat similar to a chicken tortilla soup in terms of its hotness, but without the chicken or tortillas, of course.  That's the risk in going for the offbeat option, that it won't live up to expectations.  But then, even the standards often fall short, so I guess it's 50-50 no matter which direction you go.  Over the past few years, I think I'd say the risks have been well worth it, since the truly great soups seem to more often emerge from the ranks of the new and different than the familiar.  Let's hope that continues to be the case through the remainder of my summer travels.

Monday's Bon Mots

Today's words of wisdom come from the father of the American Constitution, James Madison (1751-1836):

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cool Song

Sean Nelson, the lead singer for Harvey Danger in this clip, was also one of the vocalists singing Beatles tunes with the Seattle Rock Orchestra last week.  The guy's got some great pipes:


I've been through Portland, Oregon a few times before, but never really spent any time there (aside from a couple visits to Powell's bookstore and the art museum).  After a couple of days of wandering around the town last week, I'm even more impressed by the place.  For one thing, it's very pedestrian (and bike) friendly, so it was easy to wander around a bit and explore.  The shot above was taken in the park that runs along the Willamette River that cuts through the downtown of the city.

The shot at top was taken looking to the north, this one looking south.  The park itself was quite busy, even though it was a workday morning.  Actually, with all the nearby office and commercial buildings, maybe many of the folks strolling or pedaling along were actually on their way to work. 

This is a spot called Ankeny Square, a couple of blocks west of the river.  It almost looks like a piazza one might find in Italy or Spain.  The last picture below was snapped on the campus of Portland State University, which was located just on the edge of downtown Portland.  Looks like a nice place to go to school.

Cascade Locks

One of the stops I made on my recent travels around the Pacific Northwest was a small place called Cascade Locks, which I'm guessing were created back when there was a dam constructed on the Columbia nearby (but which isn't there any longer).  There's a nice little park there, which I strolled around, taking pictures.

Lewis and Clark went through here, and there's a nice statue of Sacagawea pointing to the west.  She's reaching back to touch the hand of her son, who she carried along on the expedition. Alongside the sculpture of Sacagawea is another of Seaman, Captain Lewis' Newfoundland dog, who also accompanied his master on the trip. 

This sternwheeler was docked near the statues.  I'm guessing it's used for party cruises and the like. In the picture below, it appears that the local geese appreciate the scenery too.

Sunday Funnies

This week, I'm featuring another of the great New Yorker cartoonists, namely Gardner Rea.  Rea had a very distinctive style, with a simple line and pointed humor, and his work was a mainstay in the magazine for almost forty years.  He belongs right up there in the pantheon of panel cartoonists with the likes of Peter Arno, Whitney Darrow, and Charles Addams, as you can see from these examples.

Quote of the Day

As a service to all the parents who hear their children complain that they are bored, I offer this comment from the British cleric William R. Inge (1860-1954) as a possible retort:

"Nobody is bored when he is trying to make 
something that is beautiful or to discover 
something that is true."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Great Song

Tom Rush was one of the great voices back in the folk/singer-songwriter era of the late sixties and early seventies.  Mostly he performed other people's compositions (he was dynamite on Joni Mitchell tunes) but this song shows that he was no slouch as a composer himself.  This would be better only if it were longer (and on his album, The Circle Game, it is):

Yea Chelsea!

I've mentioned a couple times here how much I've come to enjoy watching soccer over the last couple of years.  Today it was made even more worthwhile as my team, the Chelsea Blues defeated Bayern Munich to win the UEFA Champions League tournament-- apparently the most prestigious competition in the sport (certainly among European clubs).  Chelsea did this despite being decided underdogs through the last few rounds, including in today's final. But thanks to the heroics of goaltender Petr Cech (who stopped three-- three!-- penalty shots by Munich) and striker Didier Drogba (who scored the tying goal with just two minutes remaining in regulation, then calmly scored the decisive tally when the game went to penalty kicks; second from right above), they came out on top, despite Munich's edge in just about every statistical measure (e.g., shots, possession time, 16 corners to only one for Chelsea, etc.).  After a game like this, which was televised on US network TV (somewhat to my surprise), it remains a total mystery to me as to why so many Americans (and especially sportscasters) refuse to embrace this exciting sport.  Their loss.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

I always liked Baby Huey-- so well-intentioned but dopey.  Here's his "origin story."

Saturday's Quote

I found this to be an interesting take on things by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873):

"Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and courage which it contained."