Saturday, August 30, 2008

I hear Alaska is in the news

Wherein I agree with the youtube uploader that this is the "best example of music fitting a scene ever done" It is It's brilliant

You want my opinion, this is the best signoff any television show has ever done. The end of Nothern Exposure with My Town by Iris Dement.

Beautiful song. Here's a live version by Iris:

I don't have any Iris Dement CDs. I've meant to look for some, I just haven't gotten around to it. I'll try to correct this this weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hold the rimshot

Wherein probably up tomorrow at that other place

Decent comedy pedigree: Jack Burns, Avery Schreiber, Ann Elder, Fannie Flagg, Bob Ridgely, Jack Riley, Frank Welker. Too bad the first side was kind of a dud. So far, the Jimmy Carter album is funnier.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joe's Garage

Wherein screw Orwell and his 1984 we have been living with the Central Scutinizer for years

The whole idea and concept behind this album makes it one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century. This and the South Park movie (and Joe Vs. the Volcano). It is true that Acts II & III get a bit out of control and even the second half of Act I is only OK. And a lot of the guitar solos were recycled. Still, there's that side 1 of album one, four of the most brilliant, subversive tracks ever slammed up next to each other. Large chunks of this have lodged in my brain for 28 years and have affected me more than I probably know:
Our studies have shown that this horrible force is so dangerous to society at large that laws are being drawn up at this very moment to stop it forever! Cruel and inhuman punishments are being carefully described in tiny paragraphs so they won't conflict with the Constitution (which, itself, is being modified in order to accommodate THE FUTURE)


But skip all that bullshit and concentrate on the album's second track, Joe's Garage. What this gives us in six minutes is a tutorial of forming a band and getting screwed over by the music industry. With a catchy beat. Listen to the album track (youtube). Or watch a live version:


decline of the music industry

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rome 1960

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

The tawny Tiber twisted its tortuous way through Rome during the Games of the Seventeenth Olympiad just as it had in the days of Caesar, oblivious of the fact that two thousand years had slipped by.

Is there anything about the chapter's first sentence that impels you to keep reading? Maybe if they continued the tongue-twisters for the next forty pages I'd be interested. But seeing as how I've already gone through 300 pages and after I finish lunch I'm also finished with the book...let's get this over with.
Unlike all other postwar Olympic Games, where financing was a prime worry, the Roman holiday was a carefree endeavor, and money was no object. The new temples to amateur idealism were built with funds siphoned off the weekly lottery on professional soccer. The pursists[sic] in the International Olympic Committee did not even blink an eye. They merely looked in the other direction and then got muscle-bound from patting the Italian Organizing Committee on its collective back.

The Winter Games, not so smooth:
Then in 1954 a brainstorm swept over Cushing like an avalanche spilling down a mountainside. This, too, inexorably carried everything in its tracks. Why not bring the 1960 Winter Olympics to that dazzling capital of the refrigerated world, Squaw Valley?

All that Squaw Valley then had to offer were: one ski lift, two tow ropes, a miniscule ski lodge, magnificent scenery, and promises. When the late Donna Fox of the U.S. Olympic Committee saw the layout for the first time, he recoiled in dismay.

"Great grief, Alec," he gasped, "you have nothing but a glorified picnic grounds." [...]

Before it was over [the California legislature] were to shell out at least $9,000,000, and now California has a winter sports paradise which cannot pay its own way on the original investment. [...]

Torrential rains, lashed by winds up to 100 miles per hour, were funneled down the mountainsides to the basin below. But before the snow was washed off the peaks and the valley was turned into a turbulent river, a drop in the temperature converted the 30-hour rainstorm into a 24-hour blizzard. The Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley were saved.[...]

This set up the drama of the final hockey game on the schedule. Sure of at least a first place tie with Canada, the American team trailed Czechoslovakia, 4-3, at the end of two periods. At the intermission Nikolai Sologubov, captain of the Soviet team, visited a dressing room.

It wasn't the quarters of satellite Czechoslovakia. It was the quarters of the imperialists from the United States. Using sign language that could not be mistaken, he urged the Americans to take whiffs of oxygen to counteract the thin air of the mile-high arena. They did and beat the Czechs, 9-4.

Here's a biography of Nikolai Sologubov. Doesn't mention this Olympic episode, but does say he played in the "very first ice hockey game in Russia." was called the "Russian Bobby Orr." At ESPN, The First Miracle on Ice covers it, along with the whole 1960 U.S. hockey campaign.

On to Rome.
Knud Enemark Jensen of Denmark, pedaling furiously around the velodrome in the closing stages of the 100-kilometer team race, suddenly toppled off his bike. The assumption was that he;d suffered a sunstroke in the fierce 92-degree heat. Treated by a doctor on the scene, he was rushed by ambulance to a hospital. A few hours later he died.

This was bad enough. But a few days later the death of the 22-year-old Dane assumed ugly, scandalous proportions. The trainer of the Danish team admitted that he'd administered drugs to his cyclists in order to intensify blood circulation. Two other Danish cyclists also had collapsed during the race, but both were to recover. It was a shocking denouement, one that was not ameliorated by the disclosure that most professional riders constantly use drugs. But the pros at least know how much their bodies can take. The amateurs do not. Italy and Denmark immediately began investigations. [...]

The first surprise was supplied by Carolyn Schuler, a 17-year-old California schoolgirl, who had been outranked by the even more precocious Carolyn Wood of Portland, Ore., aged 14. But little Miss Wood stopped in the middle of the 100-meter butterfly.

She clutched the lane marker and burst into tears. Some unidentified man, fully clothed, dived into to rescue her, impetuously assuming she'd suffered a cramp and needed rescue. She didn't at all. Emotion had overcome her. The Olympic Games were just too much for a 14-year-old.

According to the International Swimming Hall of Fame Carolyn Wood swallowed water and choked. She still won two gold medals at Rome. MIss Wood explains the amateur rules of the day:
In swimming, amateur rules even prevented me from earning money lifeguarding ($1.25/hour at Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District) so when I was hired after high school swim season in 1962 I gave up any chance of returning to competition. I was 16 years old.

The day between Monday and Wednesday

Wherein weather is soggy

2. Lisbon
3. Cuban missle crisis. Right month, wrong year. Thought 1960 was early. Correct answer. If I did bumper stickers, I'd seriously consider getting toady of American imperialism.
4. I have no sounds in my head.
5. Typewriter
6. Knock Knock Who's there? Ural Ural who? Urinalysis One, that doesn't make any sense. Two, Urals are in Russia, not central China. shut up
7. [deleted]; don't know

Rough draft

Wherein stuff left unsaid

Before the rough draft there was a a verbal draft:
  1. Update and export these.
  2. Import that and fix this.
  3. Repeat step 2 for the other files.

Not enough, so the illegible notes were scrawled. And that led to an eight page document and a one hour training class.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Melbourne 1956

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

[T]he large colony of former Hungarians in Melbourne, the thousands who had fled from Communist rule in their homeland tos ettle in Australia, seethed in an emotional torment. They'd followed the news of the bloody Soviet reprisals in their native land with anguish and with anger. Hatred of Communism boiled to a new white heat.

No sooner had the advance guard of the Hungarian team arrived at the Olympic Village than the athletes swiftly hauled down the Hungarian flag, ripped off the Communist emblem on it and proudly returned it on high....

That evening the main body of Hungarians arrived. Thousands upon thousands of their former countrymen swarmed to the airport to give them a tearful greeting....The Olympians were visibly shaken by their welcome. Nor did they miss the significance of the black arm bands of mourning which were worn by the Hungarian emigres.

Helsinki 1952

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

Norway, Winter Olympics:
The only sour notes came from the only bodily contact sport of the winter show, ice hockey. Americans got into fist fights with Poles in one game and a Swiss was slugged in another. That second one cause the bigger commotion as a Swiss newspaper characterized Americans as "rowdies" and demanded an end to the "pollution of European hockey by overseas teams." This was a left-handed crack at the Canadians as well as a right-handed slam at us because the vigorous play of athletes from this continent doesn't fit in with the more polite tactics of Europeans.

Boo friggin' boo. You'd think by this point of the 20th century, Europeans would've gotten used to having their asses handed to them by Americans. USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! On to the summer.
But a fortnight before the athletes were scheduled to depart the fund-raising was half a million dollars short of its goal of $850,000. Then came a most remarkable occurence.

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, perhaps the most sportsminded of all Hollywood stars, came galloping to the rescue. They agreed to act as joint masters of ceremony at a round-the-clock television show, the Olympic Telethon as they called it....Pledges rolled in at a fantastic rate under good-natured Crosby-Hope prodding. Some fifteen hours after the Olympic Telethon had begun its attempt to raise a half million dollars the giant board on the stage revealed that $1,000,020 had been pledged. [...]

Try as they might, however, the International Olympic Committee never could keep politics completely out of the Games. East Germany applied for recognition as a separate entity and the IOC contrived to sidle away from that by continuing its recognition of the West-Germans, who held the equivalent of the original Olympic "franchise."

China was different, though. Both Nationalist China and Red China held separate memberships in the various international federations and the original Chinese Olympic Committee was split in personnel into the two camps. The IOC stalled on this ticklish question until the Games were about to begin and then straddled the fence by accepting both.

The aggrieved Nationalists thereupon withdrew in indignation, muttering that this step was highly illegal and improper. That left the field to Red China, a rather empty victory because the Communists didn't have any athletes on the premises anyway.

Seventeen second introduction

Wherein the rhythm of vision is a dancer

Ballet Monday Ballet: Auditions

Wherein a letter to the parent Please understand and consider the professional nature of this project And that by attending the adition you are expressly implying that you will accept any and all parts assigned to your dancer That you will commit to the rehearsal schedules as outlined in this letter and that you accept the commitment to lend volunteer assistance as outlined in this letter

Two audition clips for the London Children's Ballet (embedding disabled):

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'll agree to this

Wherein people and politics that's a lethal combination in a small house when it rains*

  1. This is funny.
  2. This is true:
    I'm profoundly tired of being unable to say anything about the candidates without having it turn into a shouting match. I post a mildly amusing video about John McCain, and it immediately degenerates into a shouting match over whether he's, like, the worst person ever, or the victim of a liberal media conspiracy. No one seems to be able to be able to hold two different thoughts in their heads at once:

    1. The houses thing is a silly issue that shouldn't make any difference in peoples' willingness to vote for McCain
    2. The houses thing is funny, especially when set to Feist.

    Both Obama and McCain supporters seem convinced that my every utterance on the topic is part of my not-so-hidden agenda to undermine their candidate.

  3. But Ms. McArdle inserts two spaces after a period so by the SoQuoted bylaws I am unable to agree with her about anything and must swear eternal hatred until she amends and apologizes for her evil ways.
  4. That sucks, but there can be no wavering on the two spaces front. Everything else is immaterial.
  5. Completely unrelated, I've begun reading the Kingsolver book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for this. I can't stand her whiny style of writing and she thoroughly pissed me off by the fourth page. Guess I'll finish it.

Joe, by the Cranberries

I meant to do this?

Wherein it's this blog's Persian flaw

What's that rule again? O before P unless the P is part of an abbreviation that if spelled out would be first even though abbreviations and acronyms should be alphabetized as is and not by their spelled out form despite what one former manager believed but she was and is a barely functional idiot.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Categories on the Canadian version of the $10,000 pyramid

Wherein list started after listening to this NPR story where Scott Simon says "Debbie Does Saskatoon" completely ignoring the original alliteration so I suggested "Sally Sucks Saskatoon"

  1. Actors on Saturday Night Live
  2. National Hockey League awards
  3. Poutine ingredients
  4. Lorne Greene
  5. Things you can do with snow
  6. Maple Syrup
  7. Prime Ministers
  8. 12 Days of Christmas (Bob and Doug McKenzie)
  9. Famous Bays
  10. Things that rhyme with Regina

London 1948

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

The Games of 1940 vanished without a trace and into the limbo of the forgotten and the ignored passed those of 1944. That the latter had been assigned to London was merely a technical detail since no ever expected them to be held anyway. However, this did serve to give the British capital prior claim on 1948. hardly had the last shot gone echoing down the halls of time before the International Olympic Committee met in bomb-scarred London in August of 1945 and made it official. [...]

"Limbo of the forgotten" sounds like a quote, though I can't locate the origin. Searching Google books shows that usage going back to at least the 1870s.
For the first time in the history of the Winter Olympics, the United States took gold medals in skiing and in figure skating. A pretty, pig-tailed lass, Mrs. Gretchen Fraser, won the slalom while 18-year-old Dick Button glided to victory in the figures.

I don't think I knew Dick Button was a gold medalist. He succesfully defended his title in 1952. Though the chapters are getting longer I'm finding less I'm interested in quoting. The U.S. 400-meter relay team wins after their disqualification protest is upheld. Weather was hot and the rain was heavy. I could catalog all the various hues the authors choose to describe the "negro" athletes, but these are probably best left alone. The final paragraph includes a sentence that promises an interesting story:
Some of the Czech and Hungarian athletes flatly refused to return home behind Russia's Iron Curtain.

Peaking at the next chapter, this topic doesn't appear to be pursued.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tim and Tom

Wherein new book in September

Something Old, Nothing New is running the WKRP episode when Tom Dreesen joined Tim Reid. Very interesting take on identities.

...and the number 1 stripper injury is...

Wherein the background to this includes a workplace conversation about trips to the emergency room and the people one encounters there at 3am that is too lengthy to relate for a sufficient amount of interest to uh relate but did include an actual stripper with beer bottle glass stuck in her hair

Groin pull

The other nine will be your homework for the weekend.

Toyko, Helsinki 1940

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

By midsummer of 1938 the Japanese came to the reluctant conclusion that they had their hands much too full with the Chinese to be bothered with any other international obligation, particularly the 1940 Olympic Games. So they returned the award to the International Olympic Committee which instantly reassigned it to Helsinki.

The Finnish Organizing Committee went rapidly to work constructing a new stadium. But that beautifully designed structure was to feel the thud of shots long before it ever felt the thud of shotputs. In 1939 Russia began her rape of Finland and nothing kills sporting instincts more violently than war, which is man's most unsportsmanlike activity.

And that's why no Olympic sport has any connection with type of warlike activity whatsoever. But seriously, ...the thud of shots long before it ever felt the thud of shotputs? This was written by professional, Pulitzer prize-winning authors?

Berlin 1936

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

Basketball was on the program for the second time in Olympic history and the United States team ran away with the championship, which was to be expected, even under the strange rules enforced by foreign officials on the outdoor court at Berlin. Basketball was invented or devised in the United States and when themEuropeans adopted it they couldn't twist the fundamental principles so out of shape that the United States representatives could be beaten at their own game. The soccer competition provided the usual supply of brawls and upheld its unenviable record as the most quarrelsome sport on the Olympic chart.

I wouldn't know about this "unenviable record" because in this history of the Olympics this is the first time soccer has been mentioned.
Later in the Berlin soccer campaign there was an argument over a game won by Peru over Austri and the game was ordered re-played. This exasperated the Peruvians, who promptly withdrew their whole team from further participation in the Olympic Games, and in far-off Lima the indignant citizens of Peru gathered up stones and bombarded the German Consulate although, as it happened, the Germans had nothing to do with the incident at Berlin in any capacity. [...]

The United States expedition was not entirely a peace party on its way to the Berlin opening ceremonies. Mrs. Eleanor Holm Jarrett, backstroke winner in the women's division of the swimming competition at Los Angeles in 1932, was removed from the team by Avery Brundage, head of the American Olympic Committee, on the charge that she had broken training rules on shipboard -- champagne was mentioned in the indictment -- and there was a to-do about it at home and abroad.

More on Eleanor Holm Jarrett

Los Angeles 1932

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.
It was feared that the economic depression gripping the world would spell the ruin of the games scheduled for Los Angeles. The expense of staging the great athletic spectacle would be too big a burden for the California community. The foreign nations would have neither the money nor the inclination to send husky and heavy-eating representatives on tour at such a time. But the active and enthusiastic organizing committee went ahead in the face of these dark prospects to hoist the five-circled Olympic flag to new heights above the broad field of international athletic competition on a record-breaking scale.
Thirty-nine nations had as their representatives some 2,000 athletes at Los Angeles to collaborate in an astonishing series of contests in which practically all former Olympic and many world's records were broken like dried sticks. [...]
For the housing of the athletes of all competing countries there had been erected just outside the city limits of Los Angeles an Olympic Village of 55 cottages and larger buildings on a rolling tract of 250 acres. As far as possible the competitors were billeted in national groups and food for each group was prepared by chefs of corresponding nationality so that the athletes in training could have the diet they were accustomed to served as they liked it....
No women were allowed in the Olympic Village. The women competitors were housed in a Los Angeles hotel that was taken over for that purpose by the Olympic committee. The "community" idea found favor with the competitors of the varied nations. It enabled them to mingle with international rivals off as well as on the field. They visited from cottage to cottage and met in the larger buildings proved for general social use. This included the main hall in which athletes of the day could gather in the evening and watch moving pictures of the events in which they had taken part. [...]

The Odyssey of the Brazilian adventurers was sorrowful. There were sixty-nine athletes and the government, by no means an exception in those days, had no money in the treasury to contribute for an athletic argosy. But the government had idle boats and a vast over-supply of that staple product of the country: coffee. So the government provided a naval auxiliary and 50,000 bags of coffee and the sixty-nine Brazilian athletes embarked. They were to work the ship to Los Angeles and sell the coffee at ports along the way to finance their Olympic tour. Apparently the inhabitants of the ports they touched were fed up on coffee. Sales were small and when the ship reached California the financial crisis aboard was such that forty-five of the sixty-nine athletes could not go ashore. They didn't have even the landing tax of $1.00 per head. The twenty-four lucky plutocrats who sauntered down the gangplank waved farewell to their sorrowful shipmates and headed for the Olympic Village. The doomed men on the ship put out hopefully to sea again to try the northerly Pacific ports with their cargo of coffee, and that was the lst that the athletic world heard of them.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

You know what I hate? Rhetorical questions.

Wherein a fine example of why I won't be pursuing a career as a standup comedian

People only buy newspapers for the puzzles

Wherein a link to what may be my favorite Rosenbaum column: Shoplift Lit: You Are What You Steal even though the Charles Portis novels I read didn't impress me I'm still highly interested in reading some other books on his list especially "Sot-Weed Factor" and "The Dick Gibson Show"

What Ron Rosenbaum hates is for people sitting alone playing with themselves:
What always gets to me is the self-congratulatory assumption on the part of puzzle people that their addiction to the useless habit somehow proves they are smarter or more literate than the rest of us. Need I suggest that those who spend time doing crossword puzzles (or sudoku)—uselessly filling empty boxes (a metaphor for some emptiness in their lives?)—could be doing something else that involves words and letters? It's called reading.
But somehow crossword types think that their addiction to this sad form of mental self-abuse somehow makes them "literary." Sorry: Doing puzzles reflects not an elevated literary sensibility but a degraded letter-ary sensibility, one that demonstrates an inability to find pleasure in reading. Otherwise, why choose the wan, sterile satisfactions of crosswords over the far more robust full-blooded pleasures of books?
But, again, let's try to take seriously the self-image of puzzle people as brainiacs. (Come on, try!) Isn't it a tragedy, then, a criminal shame, that all their amazing brainpower gets wasted on word games? If they're as smart as they think they are and there were some way to channel their alleged brainpower to something other than word games, we could cure cancer in a month!

Comment of the day

Wherein Moby does look like Phil Silvers

In here:
Cmon, who can blame them for wanting to keep Sting, John Mayer and Dave Matthews out of their country? If I had my own country, that's the first law I'd pass.

Amsterdam 1928

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

There were twenty-two track and field events on the Olympic program at Amsterdam. Except for the two relays, the United States won just a single race, the 400-meter event. Finland won four races and also captured one of the field events. Altogether, the United States took eight first places in track and field. Eight first places for the United States; five for Finland. At that time the estimated population of the United States was 120,000,000; the estimated population of Finland was 3,500,000. "Comparisons are odorous" as Constable Dogberry so sagely asserted. Let the figures speak for themselves. [...]

There was also a fearful row over the amateur status of Charley Paddock, the famous Coast sprinter and veteran of two previous Olympic campaigns. Just before the team sailed from New York his amateur status was called into question for approximately the ninety-ninth time, the allegations being that his writings, lectures and moving picture exhibitions constituted a violation of the amateur rules. When the committee absolved Paddock, George W. Wightman, one of the vice-presidents of the American Olympic Committee, resigned as a protest against Paddock's inclusion with the team. Great Britain also challenged Paddock's status again when the team reached Holland but that challenge was quickly tossed out of court.[...]

Levi man for the United States in the hop, step and jump, was beaten by an inch in the final test by Mikio Oda of Japan. It was the first victory ever scored by Japan in a track or field event at Olympic games. [...]

The time between the closing of the track and field program and the presentation of medals was taken up with the many other sports on the Olympic program such as swimming, rowing, football, wrestling, polo, boxing and so on. Of these it can only be set down here that it would take another volume or several volumes to cover any considerable part of that wide field....

So I guess that the title of this book -- The Story of the Olympic Games -- is mostly a lie. Really all they've written is A Partial History of the Track and Field Events of the Olympic Games with Occasional Mention of Other Events.

Again with the Shakespeare -- Constable Dogberry is from Much Ado about Nothing. Watch Michael Keaton in the role of Dogberry:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Paris 1924

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

The America was fitted up in style for the athletic argosy. A 220-yard cork track for the runners was put down on the promenade deck. The swimmers -- this included a strong delegation of women -- had a canvas tank rigged for them. But it was a small one and they had to practice their strokes while "anchored" from above by a rope so that they were "swimming" in the same place all the time. The boxers had several rings and the wrestlers had all the mats they needed. Only the hammer throwers were at a disadvantage. As yet, no ship has been built big enough to provide a hammer thrower with a sea-going exercise ground for his favorite athletic occupation. [...]

Then came, to borrow a title from G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday. It was on the fifth day of competition, Thursday, July 10, that the great Nurmi won the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter championships within two hours, setting Olympic records in each event, running in the form that was the marvel of the athletic world for years and getting no opposition worth mentioning except from Ritola, his countryman, in the 5,000-meter run....In the longer event the United States nominees were not expected to figure and they lived up to expectations.

20 days and counting

Wherein I picked the titanium/silver crusader

Steven Levy profiles Neal Stephenson for Wired magazine. I did my best to not look at the Anathem details, so I'll quote these interesting bits:
Stephenson sees a parallel to the George W. Bush-era wars between science and religion, made possible because the general population is either indifferent or hostile to extended rational thought. "I could never get that idea, the notion that society in general is becoming aliterate, out of my head," he says. "People who write books, people who work in universities, who work on big projects for a long time, are on a diverging course from the rest of society. Slowly, the two cultures just get further and further apart."[...]

Stephenson spends his mornings cloistered in the basement, writing longhand in fountain pen and reworking the pages on a Mac version of the Emacs text editor. This intensity cannot be sustained all day—"It's part of my personality that I have to mess with stuff," he says—so after the writing sessions, he likes to get his hands on something real or hack stuff on the computer. (He's particularly adept at Mathematica, the equation-crunching software of choice for mathematicians and engineers.) For six years, he was an adviser to Jeff Bezos' space-flight startup, Blue Origin. He left amicably in 2006. Last year, he went to work for another Northwest tech icon, Nathan Myhrvold, who heads Intellectual Ventures, an invention factory that churns out patents and prototypes of high-risk, high-reward ideas. Stephenson and two partners spend most afternoons across Lake Washington in the IV lab, a low-slung building with an exotic array of tools and machines to make physical manifestations of the fancies that flow from the big thinkers on call there.

"In Neal's books, he's been fantastically good at creating scenarios and technologies that are purely imaginary," Myhrvold says. "But they're much easier imagined than built. So we spend a certain amount of our time imagining them but the rest of our time building them. It's also very cool but different to say, 'Let's come up with new ways of doing brain surgery.'"

That's right—brain surgery is one of the things Stephenson is tinkering with. He and his team are helping refine some mechanical aspects of a new tool, a helical needle for operating on brain tumors. It's the kind of cool job one of his characters might have.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

another round of Q&G

Wherein last week's #7 That was something

1. The square root of the number holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. Or 36. Crap, I was thinking of Saltine, not Ritz. Not that it mattered, I was still massively wrong. Discuss what holes mean in ""A Day in the Life."

2. I guess I consider these different disciplines of the same sport and not different sports.

3. Abuse the postal service by sending snail-mail spam.

4. 1978 -- I bet I know this song and the answer will make me kick myself. Don't recognize either of the bandmates. Yes, I know the song. No, I never would have guessed it. I've never thought of it as a New York song.

5. clover

6. ansel adams

7. The answer, as always, involves Frank Sinatra.

Looks like I score a pathetic two this week.

Monday, August 18, 2008

5 day forecast

Wherein cleaned out the gutters so I'm ready

From Weather Underground.

Tuesday, midnight update:

Wednesday, 11pm:

Monday Ballet Monday: A Beautiful Tragedy

Wherein class starts again this week Luckily it's nothing like this

Clips from the ballet documentary A Beautiful Tragedy:
The Perms Order of Honour Choreographic School lies far east in Russia, close to Siberia, and is one of the most renowned schools in the world. Of five hundred children selected for the annual audition at the school, only 30 are accepted. To get a place in the school the body has to be perfect: each part of the body is given marks, 5 is perfection. Then they look to see how supple the girls are, stretching their small bodies in every direction. Most of the girls spend 9 years at this school, sacrificing their youth and suffering unbearable pain - only to realize that their dream will not come true.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two views

Wherein the Gruber mentioned is John at Daring Fireball Sometimes Mac people just assume that nonMac people know what they're talking about Of course as always substitute Mac and nonMac with generic Group A and Generic Group B

At Peeve Farm, Brian is discussing Walt Disney Animation Studios' new website: Here's to 1994. He concludes with "'s like they thought the best way to get back to where the studio was in the high-flying mid-90s was to redo their website the way it was done back then, back when everything was still new and fresh and exciting and we didn't have time to do things thoroughly and according to spec simply because there was still so much to create."

Wow! That sounds cool in a retroey cool retro way! Strip it down, get rid of the bullshit and have a website that focuses attention on the art. But then there's the comment that pours cold water on the whole thing: "Maybe you don't use Dreamweaver. But this code is so obviously Dreamweaver template code....This site is obviously an in-house job probably given as extra work to some employee who happened to have Dreamweaver installed on his or her desktop. And just chose the most simple "get it done" approach to the task."

I can't give my opinion because I can't get the website to open.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Violet the organ grinder

Wherein Violet is a small girl making a couple pennies a day with her organ grinding Then her fairy god monkey convinces her the organ grinder is magical and soon Violet is playing concerts in front of large crowds But Puppy the evil dog is jealous and conspires to steal the organ grinder Then the fairy god monkey reveals it wasn't a magical organ grinder and Violet just needed to believe in herself

Trying to talk The Wife into illustrating a children's story to this song's lyrics.

Prince - Violet The Organ Grinder [Video] - Prince

Friday, August 15, 2008

In twenty-two seconds

Wherein when Peter O'Toole's voice goes high he starts to sound like Katherine Hepburn

Since I name-checked the movie The Stunt Man in my review of Tropic Thunder, I went looking for a couple of clips. Here are a couple of clips.

22 seconds

Something less boring

My new favorite sports quote and possibly the most dubious sports statistic ever or at least in the top ten

Wherein my previous favorite sports quote has lasted since 1984 when the Minnesota Twins were in contention in the final week and Gary Gaetti blew a throw to first base: "“It’s hard to throw with both hands wrapped around your throat.”

Li Weifeng, team captain for the Chinese soccer team: “We play soccer like the Brazilians play Ping-Pong.”

Dubious sports statistic department: Attempting to verify the Gaetti quote, I came across his wiki page: He currently is the all-time home run king of players that homered in their first Major League at bat.

This is scary and kinda cute: The Gary Gaetti Cult, because for a couple years there in the 80s, he was one of the best third basemen in the game. The Columnist Mike Nadel also has the quote. Even if I wanted to go to the Mpls Star-Tribune for an article their database only goes back to 1986.

Not Dark Yet

Wherein Tosy and Cosh (I always want to write Cosy and Tosh, by the way) is listing his top 100 songs I think I prefer the bottom of the list but it's his list not mine so screw me Anyway the Bob Dylan version of this is #28

I like Dylan and I like the way he sings. So I don't think I'm out of line stating his voice has seen better days. I actually find the version Tosy and Cosh links to be very pedestrian and tired in a "bored with this song" way.

On the other hand, Robyn Hitchcock's cover flat out stuns me. There's more a ferocity to survive than resignation and while the fates might be predestined the protaganist isn't going down without a fight. Hitchcock is a huge Dylan and covers him as well as anyone. If you like this, he has an entire album of live Dylan covers. Recommended with my highest marks -- I give it a Michael Phelps.

Here's Robyn singing one of his own songs. Also one of my favorites.

It's the return of...

Wherein wherein's don't count Or they do count there are no rules to whereins But this one doesn't count and I meant to put this up about 18 hours since looking at the clock it's now Friday

Look! Haiku Thursday is back!
Bring it back again?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Antwerp 1920

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.

Does anyone else think the first paragraph screams Oscar-winning motion picture?
Antwerp was selected as the site and war-swept Belgium had only a year in which to build a stadium and prepare for an influx of athletes from all over the world. Though the peace treaty had been signed, the shadow of the World War still hung over the games. Little Belgium, shattered by shell fire and occupied for four years by enemy forces, wasn't quite up to the task of doing the games on a grand scale. Germany and Austria, late enemy nations of Belgium and the Allies, were not invited to send athletes to Antwerp. There were war veterans competing in many events on the Olympic program.[...]

There were 1,500 athletes...down to the little brown brothers from Japan.

The first version of this book was published in 1936. My guess is that much that appears in this book was collected from their own earlier columns. Also likely that no felt like giving much thought to editing these chapters that were completed 20 years earlier. Otherwise, I'm thinking that by 1960 "little brown brothers" should've gotten a rewrite. Or maybe not.
The stadium was built to accommdate 30,000 spectators but it was filled only on one occasion and that was when, mournful at the sight of so many empty seats every day, the Belgian officials opened the gates and invited school children and the genreal public to step in and witness the greatest athletic show on earth free of charge. The truth is that Belgium, as a nation, was not particularly interested in track and field sports and, moreover, the natives had little money to spare or to spend after going through the hardships and privations of the World War. Admission was only about 20 cents but that was more than most of the inhabitants of Antwerp could afford to spend for such amusements. So the games were a handsome deficit when the affair was concluded.

So it'll be a bittersweet story. Ah, comedy. Love this sentence:
Late in the afternoon of the same day the United States tug-of-war team was metaphorically pulled all over Antwerp by a mastodonic team of "bobbies" from the famous Metropolitan Police Force of London.

Maybe here's our story of triumph among the ruins:
But probably the most significant event of the day was the 5,000 metre[sic] run. Guillemot, the great Frenchman, won it, which was cause for rejoicing on all sides. Here was a French war veteran who had been gassed badly at the front and whose lungs were supposed to be ruined.

This chapter also includes an account of the Mutiny of theMatoika (wiki). And a NY Times story of how the athletes trained onboard the Matoika.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The most important movie you'll see until the next movie you see

Wherein I haven't laughed this much since the South Park movie

Went to Tropic Thunder this evening and it was much more than I expected.

Let me get this out the way. Timothy Shriver is a very dangerous person who would happily destroy the foundations of this country. Plus, he doesn't know shit about comedy: But I was taught that mean isn't funny. Then you went to a bad school. It's never funny when good and decent human beings are humiliated. Have you ever watched network comedies or even most movies or read any form of literature? You have no right to be free from offense and freedom of speech requires people playing with language and speech and ideas that often cross the line. You have the right to not laugh but to insist that no one else gets to laugh is an even more offensive proposition than any name-calling I can think of. If this blog has any coherent political thought it's "back the fuck away from the speech codes."

Robert Downey, Jr. was the only reason I wanted to see this movie. The guy is just operating on a different level than everyone else. I can't think of anyone I'd be remotely interested to see play a white Australian play an African American. And Downey is brilliant. Even Jack Black and Ben Stiller, both of whom I prefer in small doses, never have a weak moment. Everyone works great in this movie, with the most surprising being Tom Cruise. Crazy dude steals the movie.

It's a surprisingly toned movie, trading the gross and outrageous with dark comedy and disquisitions on the acting craft that are both heartfelt and farce. If you're looking for influences, there's a bit of Conrad; or considering the insiderishness of the themes, skip Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now and head straight to the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. Other aspects of the film's lineage can be traced to The Stunt Man, S.O.B., and even All That Jazz with the studio discussion of how a dead actor is more valuable than a live actor. For me, every note this movie hit was pitch perfect and the soundtrack was badass. To wrap up I'll just point out that while Shriver threw a hissy over the use of "retard" he apparently had no problem with "pussy juice." In addition to the movie, the producers also throw in one fake commercial and three fake previews. Quite the bargain.

Here's where I planned to post Stiller's The Hustler of Money, I can't find it, so imagine a young Ben Stiller playing a young Tom Cruise at a bowling alley.

Berlin 1916

Wherein canceled due to war

Stockholm 1912

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..

For the first time in Olympic Games an electric timing system was used. It figured to a tenth of a second and functioned well during the games.[...]

Jim Thorped, the great Indian athlete, won the pentathlon this same day. It was just as easy for Jim as picking strawberries out of a dish. He was so far ahead of the other competitors that it was no contest at all. Endowed with a magnificent physique and a natural aptitude for sports, the big Indian amazed the Swedes by the ease and grace with which he distanced his rivals at the different events. He was the toast of all the taverns in the town and it was no secret that, when his health was drunk, Jim always was ready to respond in kind. On one occasion word was brought that King Gustaf wanted to congratulate Thorpe on his magnificent performances. The big Indian, however, was even then engaged in some weight-lifting exercises and begged to be left undisturbed by royalty. He was lifting full steins of Swedish beer and setting them down empty. He excelled at that sport, too. [...]

Running [in the 5000 meter race] against Hannes the Mighty was Jean Bouin, the great French runner who sported the type of mustache later flaunted to great advantage by Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler.

The ubiquitous blogpost of random iTunes selections

Wherein idea salvaged from this

This does not require iTunes and an iPod. You could use something else, but I'll have to sniff as I walk by and give you a withering glance.

Ya know, I downloaded the Zunes applications awhile back and loaded a couple of CDs into it. I can't figure out the interface. I'm not sure how to create playlists, can't get the main menu to display the track information I want it to, plus it seems to shift skins on me and it takes me forever (2-3 clicks) to get back to where I was. I spend a lot of working with Windows apps, so it isn't like I'm flummoxed by it not being iTunes. I've tried to spend more time in it, but why put myself through the frustration when I'm not going to use it?

song, artist (album); rating

rating is a scale of 1-7:
1 = where the hell did this come from (bad)
2 = uh, must be the wife's (no comment)
3 = ok (either a gift or maybe just a weak selection from a decent song; either way, it's ok but I'm forwarding to the next song)
4 = Hey, I remember this! (Not bad, I'd recommend it)
5 = Sweet! (quiet, I'm listening to this)
6 = That's what I'm talking about! (I just might hit repeat 3 or 4 times so just shut the hell up)
7 = 6 plus I'm cranking the volume until my ears bleed

  • Particle Man, They Might Be Giants. Funny, clever, good use of funky accordian. 5
  • I Thank You, Same and Dave. Stax is THE American music. 6
  • Tears Are Not Enough, ABC. I am powerless before this. Also a couple of very good guitar lines I've never paid attention to before. Wow. 7
  • Rind The River, R.E.M. 2
  • Dear Prudence, Beatles. I prefer the Souixie and the Banshees cover. 4
  • Gloria, U2. 2
  • Street Parade, Earl King. 6
  • Sit Down By The Fire, The Pogues. Have I ever mentioned that The Child was born listening to the Pogues CD, "If I Should Fall From Grace"? 6
  • Aloho Oe, Disneyland Boys Choir. 4
  • Misunderstood, Pete Townshend. It's my theme song. 7
  • Coconut Telegraph, Jimmy Buffett. 2
  • Back in the Box, David Byrne. Spin this with the Eurthymics Missionary because there's a lot of cross-over. Possibly a Grace Jones song that I can't quite remember. 6
  • Undertow, Ivy. 3
  • Sunshower, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. Some funky disco by the guy who went on to create Kid Creole and the Coconuts. 6
  • Woman, Rick Springfield. Good god, enough with The Wife songs. 2
  • The Spoken Wheel, Flogging Molly. 3
  • Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, James Brown. 5
  • Boody Boody Ya Ya Ya, Laurie Berkner. Song works on a whole other level if you sing "bloody bloody ow ow ow." 4
  • Good To Go Lover, Gwen Guthrie. The Prince influenced synths are heavy here. I prefer Ain't Nothing Going On But the Rent. 3
  • Lovely As the Day Is Long, Paul Cebar. Just a lovely piece of...well, I'm not sure what to call it, but I've never heard Paul Cebar ever do a bad song. 7

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"I do not know this answer. I was just answering the question."

Wherein actual response received

That's your zen koan for the day. Meditate on that.

Segregation now, segregation forever

Wherein Clifford the big red racist

I don't write them, I just read them.

Sports quiz

Wherein give it a shot

Terms of jargon, name the sport:
  1. Ball of shit
  2. Brooklyn
  3. Cobra
  4. Coffee-grinder
  5. Double Top
  6. Doughnut
  7. Gaylord
  8. Nutmeg
  9. Texas leaguer
  10. Statue of Liberty

If you want a hint, I've listed the sports in inviso-text. It's possible other sports may use the same terms and I'll accept those answers if accompanied by a notarized statement.


Football, American variety
Soccer, nonAmerican football
Water polo


London 1908

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..

[United States and Sweden were insulted when their flags were not flown with the other flags]

The Finns had a grudge of their own. They carried no national banner in the big parade because Russia had insisted, through diplomatic channels, that they must carry a Russian flag if they carried any at all. They marched flagless. The athletes of Ireland were disgruntled because they were told they must compete under the banner of Great Britain and that Irish victories would add to the athletic prestige of Great Britain, a state of affairs that left the Irish athletes collectively frothing at the mouth.

That was just the start of the merrymaking. Things grew worse rapidly with half a dozen nations, by petulant proxy, barking about officials and official rulings, protesting discrimination, denouncing all things British and threatening to withdraw from competition. After the flag incident, the United States spokesmen protested the acceptance by the British officials of Indian Tom Longboat's entry in the marathon race -- he was running for Canada -- on the ground that he had been declared a professional in the United States. They protested the British methods of making the drawings for competition in trial heats. They protested the coaching of British athletes by enthusiastic British officials who were judging the contests. They protested that no member of the American Olympic Committee was allowed on the field during competition. They protested the British attitude toward United States protests and United States officials. Finally they raised a terrific howl over the decision in the 400-metre race and withdrew their finalists when the event was ordered run over again, thus giving Halswelle of Merrie England the track to himself for an official walk-over in that Olympic event.

Lest it thought that...the United States officials, merely went mad with the heat of competition and ran around biting at everybody wearing a British official badge, it might be added that the representatives of other nations were also duly or unduly indignant and loud in their protests to and against the British officials. Sweden and Finland were aggrieved. The Italians kicked up a row about the marathon finish, insisting that their man Dorando would have won it except for muddling interference on the part of British officials near the finish line. Canada and France, through their athletic spokesmen, comlained bitterly of British injustice in rulings made in the cycling events. The Swedish wrestlers were withdrawn from the Greco-Roman competition as a protest against what they called unfair British decisions.

NY Times links

And another thing bothering me about this book. The authors continually spell metre instead of meter. I let it go thinking maybe it's been since 1960 that we Americanized the spelling. I mean Kieran and Daley are American and they wrote for the New York Times, so I'm assuming they've familiarity with the standards of the day. But reading the New York Times newspaper article from 1908, the word is clearly spelled METER.

She also urinated in the back of the patrol car

Wherein sounds like the cyclist will be fine so I'm ok commenting that this sounds like a Will Ferrell movie

probably under the influence of a lot of stuff
The children in Highfield's car told police that she was driving north when she turned to them and said: "Do you think this biker is going to get hit? Do you have faith? Are you afraid?" They said she then steered her SUV across the road and struck 55-year-old Cathy Giury riding a bicycle.

When a couple in a van stopped to see if the bicyclist needed help, Highfield allegedly got out of her vehicle, jumped into the van yelling that she was going to jail, ordering the man behind the wheel to drive her away. Police were told than when the driver refused, she got out, took off her clothes and began running around.

Tuesday guessing

Wherein not a lot of effort expended this week

1. TAFKACS: the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens
2. 100 years war
3. no guess
4. Robinson - I can think of two
5. iPod
6. no guess
7. no guess

Monday, August 11, 2008

Athen 1906

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..

George Bonhag finally determined to enter a new event on the program, the 1,500-metre walk. That he never had been in a walking race in his life didn't daunt him. He inquired about the technique of heel-to-toe work and received some pointers from a friendly Canadian competitor. With that as a background, George started in the walking race.

Nobody wanted to be inspector, judge or official of any kind in a walking race, because it is always a job that leads to arguments, protests and endless debates as to whether any or all competitors are walking or running. But finally some unfortunate fellows were appointed inspectors and Prince George of Greece, 6 foot 5 in his stocking feet, consented to be chief judge. The casualties increased as the race went on, and soon there were only a few left, of whom Bonhag, the novice, was one.

Wilkinson of England, a noted walker, was 200-metres in the lead when Prince George ordered him off the track for proceeding in illegal style. Wilkinson breezed on by Prince George, pretending that he didn't understand Greek, the language in which he had been commanded to desist and retire. But on the next lap His Royal Highness stood in the middle of the track with his huge arms outstretched and said emphatically in English: "Leave! You have finished!" With Prince George blocking the track in that fashion, Wilkinson had to come to a dead halt and retire.The Prince chap then disqualified the next walker and that left Bonhag practically alone. He strolled over the line to victory, shaking with laughter. He had won an Olympic championship in an event that he was trying for the first time in his athletic career.

St. Louis 1904

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..

To the Paris games of 1900 some of the colleges of this country had sent groups of their best athletes and the New York A.C. had sent a group composed largely of former college stars. The United States had almost as many athletes in the paris games as all the other countries combined. Next to the United States contingent, Great Britain had the strongest team at Paris in 1900. But the colleges that had sent teams to Paris in 1900 practically boycotted the games four years later in St. Louis. The British, who finished second in Paris, didn't send a single representative to St. Louis. Nor did the French...

Ooooh! Intrigue! This should be a good story!
Naturally, there were some sharp controversies over the lack of athletes from Great Britain and France and also over the defection of Yale, Penn, and other Eastern universities.

Naturally, I agree. I look forward to you breaking down these sharp controversies for me.
The disputes went from the quip modest right up through the countercheck quarrelsome to the lie direct, but the games ran off smoothly and the marks made by the competitors were proof that the stay-at-homes, foreign or domestic, with few exceptions, would hvae had a difficult time holding to the Olympic pace at St. Louis.

Kiernan and Daley aren't going to tell us a damn thing, are they? Forty-one pages in and this book officially sucks ass. But at least they get to demonstrate their mastery of Shakespeare: "Quip modest" is not a typo for "quite modest," it is from As You Like It; as is -- screw it, here's quote: O Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.

Cute. But on a scale of 1-10 for useful information, this paragraph is a one. Doesn't have time or space to explain the reasons behind the boycott, yet this same chapter hands over four pages to the marathon.
[...The] Olympic Games of 1904 at St. Louis...closed down with a brisk battle between the Chicago A.A. and the New York A.C. over the eligibility of John DeWitt, Princeton all-around athlete, to compete for the New York A.C. He had lent a hand to the rope-pulling in the tug-of-war contest and the award of the team trophy hinged on the single point in dispute. After wading through a mass of charges, counter-charges, allegations and affidavits, the official jury finally gave the team trophy to the New York A.C. and the indignant Chicago delegation withdrew vowing vengeance. It cause a fine flurry at the time, but the bitter quarrel long since has been forgotten.

After reading this paragraph about ten times I think I finally figured out the controversy. Being from Princeton, DeWitt was not a member of the New York A.C. so Chicago tried to have him disqualified for pulling with New York. Also of note is that no where in the book do the authors define A.C. or A.A. I'm working under the assumption that it's Athletic Club and Athletic Association.

For a book advertising itself as the "complete history of the world's greatest sporting events" it's close to a complete failure. Aside from the almost total focus on U.S. victories (possibly explained by the near total domination of the U.S. athletes in these early years), it also focusses on track events to the near exclusion of everything else as each chapter only lists that year's winning track and field results. And as the appendix of Olympic champions doesn't list the 1904 tug-of-war champion, though the 1906 champion is named, I can't even rely on this to be accurate.

Monday Ballet Monday: Kate Weare

Wherein violence

Kate Weare interviewed in the August issue of Dance Magazine:
You have a distinctive style that's very taut and physical. How have you developed that style?
At the moment, I'm very interested in ideas that have a tinge of violence in them. I'm drawn to percussive movement, like rhythmic movements of ethnic forms like Balinese and king fu. I like tango because of the dynamism under the surface.

That tinge of violence often emerges in kind of an erotic situation. Tell me about that.
I'm fascinated by what happens when women feel more empowered, how the game shifts when women are not assumed to be the weaker players.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Replacements: All over but the shouting

Wherein Jesus rides beside me He never buys any smokes

What has always struck me as odd is that I only saw the Replacements once. This oddity is reinforced while reading Jim Walsh's The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History. I guess there are a few explanations for this: such as not really getting into them until 1984 with the release of Let It Be; I saw a lot of local music, but wasn't really a part of the scene; most of the people I hung out with weren't into the same type of music I was. Still, considering the amount of time I spent at Duffy's and The Uptown, I'd think I'd have hit at least one show by accident. But I didn't.

I have no concept of how this book works for casual fan or even for someone not from the Twin Cities. For me, part of the enjoyment is for the nostalgia of the time and place. So while I don't have any stories, I enjoyed reading those of other people. I guess I have half a story. Sometime around 1986 I spent a few months making pizzas at Green Mill in Uptown. (Crappy pizzas, eat at Davannis). One night one of the guys came in and said he almost bought Bob Stinson's guitar because he was trying to sell it for drug money.

A few selections from the book.

Part of the author explanation for why they were the best band in the world:
Because they weren't for everybody, and they didn't try to be. Because they made it look like it was fun to be alive, to be in a band. Because whenever you saw them play, you savored every moment because they were so powerfully awful, and so awfully powerful. Because when ever you saw them play, you savored every moment because you knew the clock was ticking. Because Steve Perry's cover story for the OCtober 1989 issue of Musician magazine called them "The Last, Best Band of the 80s" and the next month, Jon Bon Jovi wrote a letter to the editor that asked, "How can the Replacements be the best band of the 80s when I've never even heard of them?"

I spent more time at Duffy's than was probably healthy for me. Jay Walsh, author's brother:
So I went down to Duffy's after practice one night with a guitar tuner and told them I wanted to tune their guitars before they played. They played out of tune almost all the time. Sometimes they'd start OK, then they'd beat the hell out of the guitars and spend countless boring, fruitless minutes trying to tune up. It was just dumb luck if all sixteen of their strings were ever tuned together.

After I'd tuned the guitars, Paul was suspicious and he came up and said, "Play a C." So I played a C chord and he hummed the same chord on a harmonica. He kinda shrugged and said, "OK, I guess." Like, "OK, maybe this being-in-tune bullshit will be something different."

Well, they went out and played and they sounded like an aircraft carrier. Big, magnificent, and in tune. I remember them exchanging looks with each other and shrugging. Like "Wow, this is weird." After they played, Tommy said, "Man, we never sounded this good!" After maybe two years of playing around, they'd discovered that playing in tune could be fun too. But they reverted. I told them to buy their own fucking tuner. You could only baby-sit them so much.

Peter Buck, some guy they hired to play mandolin on Let It Be. I've also seen him play with Robyn Hitchcock:
They stayed with me for five days at my house in Athens [Georgia]. When they left, there were empty beer bottles adn records out of the jackets everywhere. As their van was pulling away, they stopped and Paul rolled down the window and said, "Uh, Peter? You might want to throw everything out fo the refrigerator. Bob's been opening up all the condiments and pissing in them everywhere we stay." So I did; haven't been able to eat mayonnaise since.

Minneapolis writer, P.D. Larson. Peter Buck is visiting Minneapolis and he and Westerberg get glammed up by a couple of women at First Avenue. They stop at a White Castle on the way home:
It was 1:45 in the morning, and we walk in there and it's rush hour. As I'm walking up to the counter, it suddenly dawns on me that Paul and Peter are still in costume. And this is two hours later, they looked even worse and were even three more sheets to the wind, and at this time Northeast was not the hip place it is now, but more like headbanger/heavy-metal territory.

So right away it was, "Who are you? What's your problem? Hey, faggot." And Paul was not terribly confrontational, but Peter for some reason, who was bigger than Paul, he was taing umbrage to some of the comments directed towards him. Then he started talking, and he had a fairly noticeable Georgia accent, adn that caused some friction as well.

Next thing I know, it's rumble in White Castle. There's swearing and voice raising and people being pushed and panicky-looking employees behind the counter reaching for the phone. And I'm standing there going, "Well, I could run out the door and pretend it never happened, and I'd be responsible for two of the key figures of '80s independent rock getting killed." But I corralled 'em and fortunately got 'em out of there.

I distinctly remember dragging Buck towards the car. I mean, he wanted to go. He was screaming, "You're're lucky."

Minneapolis writer, Bill Tuomala writing of the one Replacements show I was at. I remember thinking they must have been incredibly fucked up. Then after noticing they were laughing and having a good time pissing of the audience I began to have my doubts. I distinctly remember them ripping through an amazing cover of "Hello Dolly" and blowing the doors of a Prince song, before going back to screwing around. Weird experience realizing the band could care less about entertaining the audience. Made me like them just a little bit more.

The Replacements played the Orpheum in Minneapolis in November of 1987. They wore jumpsuits and were blotto drunk and quit playing their songs halfway through more often than not. The band went from downright goofy to determined to play lights-out at the change of a hat. In those instants that they held it together, like during a cover of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter," it was mesmerizing. There were a lot of people there bent on hearing their early fast songs and seemed to relish provoking the band...To end the show, the band just walked offstage without acknowledging that they had just finished the show. Many people booed, and Westerberg told the crowd: "We're not playing any more so fuck you."

Paris 1900

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..

The games at Paris in 1900 opened with a warm debate, continued in utter confusion and ended in a great surprise. According to the late Charles H. Sherill, then the dashing director of a group of New York A.C. athletes and afterward to become a brigadier-general, ambassador to Turkey and for many years a member of the International Olympic Committee, the competitors from the United States had no idea that they were competing in Olympic Games until they received their medals when the competition had finished. They thought they were just taking part in an international meet that was part and parcel of the Paris Exposition of that year. Their metals[sic] informed them that, unwittingly, they had enrolled themselves as Olympic champions.

Now it's happening now

Wherein I'll tell you what the hell is going on our educational system is F-U-C-K-E-D U-P

@ Peeve farm

Athens 1896

Wherein I'd like to hear more about this fabled sport of whatnot

From this book: he Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..
The games of 1896 were a bit loosely organized, which was to be expected. England, France, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Switzerland, and the United States sent teams, official or unofficial. Greece, of course, had a large representation for the games on her own soil. The United States had no official team and no official body that could have sent an official team. Yet the athletes from the United States swept the track and field program, winning nine out of twelve events in this division.

Question, wouldn't sweeping the program mean taking 12 of 12?
Here it might be said

Might be? You're about to make a list of fact. So unless you're just making this up, just say it.
that the Olympic program has included, at different places and times, such varied competitions as mountain climbing, choral singing, dumbbell swinging, esthetic dancing, military riding, still fishing, bowling on the green and whatnot. But to the average man in the street the track and field program is the main point of interest and when it is said, for instance, that the United States has won or will win "the Olympic Games," the ordinary reference is to the Olympic track and field championships unless otherwise specified. [...]

Ah, the crutch of newspaper columnists for ages, the "average man in the street." Only bettered by the politician's monocultured "American people."
At about the same time James B. Connolly, later to become widely known as a writer of sea tales, was a student at Harvard with a flair

You know who else had flair? The Nazis.
for athletics, jumping in particular. He was a South Boston boy of independent spirit and determined to go to Athens to compete "on his own." He applied to the Harvard authorities for a leave of absence, which was refused. So he simply walked out, went to Athens and didn't set foot in Harvard again until long years later when he was invited to lecture before the Harvard Union, not on athletics, but on literature.

In your face, Harvard authorities! Oh yeah, Connolly won the hop, step and jump, the first event of the 1886 Olympics.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Culturally insensitive reporters

Wherein assholes you ordered it you eat it

Watch video found at fire joe morgan. I removed the embedded video because it autoplayed and that was annoying. Look for a future* post where we'll discuss if autoplay qualifies as a proper word and all the various meanings it may have.

*Future = n < infinity

Thursday, August 07, 2008

There I go again, talking about the context

Wherein no subtext intended though you are free and encouraged to read as much as you want into it Basically I happened to read these two within minutes of each other

In one context, reader_iam said:
reader_iam said...
And he hasn’t paid his dues in the Senate, since he basically just stopped by for directions to the Oval Office.

I do rather like that line of Dowd's.

In another context, Paul Westerberg said (The Replacements: All over but the Shouting):
Where is it written? Where is it written that you have to pay your dues before [you make a record]?

My new Brett Favre headline, part 3

Wherein go back

If I ran a newspaper in Green Bay:
Farve Farve Away

If I ran a newspaper in New York:
We'll kill the fatted calf tonight!

And if he gets hurt and needs a little illegal pickmeup:
Bennies and the Jets!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Wherein pulling old books off the shelves

Maybe I'll look for a few quotes in here over the next couple weeks. The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D., by John Kieran and Arthur Daley (this Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist does not have a wiki page).

Quotes from the chapters:


Wherein my scanning skills have a way to go to catch up with Mr. James Lileks

The horrifying tale of animal experimentation in the North Carolina public schools is now complete.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The three-book challenge

Wherein I'm probably serious about this

Just picked up a copy of The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History, by Jim Walsh. Almost brought home a biography of Pol Pot or one on Herman Melville. I opened the Melville to a random page and read how the following passage was a description of a circle jerk (from the chapter "A Squeeze of the Hand"):
Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself
unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,--Oh! my dear fellow beings, why
should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

I can't argue with that. Also, that's some weird stuff; I definitely need to read some Melville. Which brings me to the 3-book challenge. I've asked before for book recommendations, but I thought I'd try something different. I will read the first three books suggested* (one book per person). Assuming the book is not so obscure that it requires an unreasonable amount of effort or funds to acquire. You can leave a description or just a title and author. Any genre is fine, don't pick a book you think I'd like, pick a book you like and wish more people would read. Or just screw me over and make me read something wretched. Your choice. I'll pay attention to other recommendations, though I only promise to attempt the first three.

*After I finish the Replacements book and taking a break, if necessary, to read the new Neal Stephenson.

More on text reading

Wherein heh heh heh he said moron

I've mentioned a number of times my love for Mark Helprin's Memoir From Antproof Case. Other than Neal Stephenson this is the book I'm most likely to recommend. Recently I've been dipping into it again and came across something I'd never paid attention to before (emphasis added):
The only innocence the world has ever known has been the innocence of Eden, of Woodrow Wilson's understanding of foreign affairs, and in the hearts of each new wave of children.

That's funny stuff.

At his page for the book, there's some background information on the inspiration for the story.
. . . ‘Oscar Progresso’s’ (one of his aliases) mad obsession with and aversion to coffee is homage to Italo Svevo’s Confessions of Zeno, a book that apparently no critic in the United States has ever read. This omission has led in turn to the belief that I myself am an anti-coffee maniac. Although it is true that in seven decades I have never even tasted coffee, much less had a cup of it (I did, in college, experiment with tea, but that was many years ago), I have no objection to coffee drinking, and I do not assault coffee drinkers. I just prefer not to kiss them . . . .

Confessions of Zeno sounds like an entertaining book and I'll add it to my list.

It's what we like to call a learning experience

Wherein how the summer started

For related stuff, see ALOTT5MA.

Those are the pins, more like 2 inch nails, about to be removed from a previously broken elbow. Everything has healed up nicely. Not that this slowed The Child down much -- she was perfecting her one-armed cartwheel while in a cast. At the ALOTT5MA post, commenter calliek asks
Here's my overall question- what is the downside to raising children in a danger-less environment? There's a huge variety of (death-defying) experiences here... how would we have been different if we had had different experiences? Does taking risks as a child enhance or hinder your childhood?

It's an interesting question. Generally speaking, there's value in letting children explore their abilities on their own and to experience the trust and responsibility of being allowed to explore. Of course some children can never be trusted and others are never curious enough to see what they can do.

For The Child, as a toddler there was climbing on the couch and stage diving to cushions on the floor. We'd let The Child do this. We'd let The Child climb playground equipment The Child wasn't old enough for, standing close by to spot The Child. Our thinking was we'd let The Child fall enough to acknowledge a mistake had been made, but not enough to seriously injure. Bumps and bruises are ok. We'd freak other parents out with what we'd let The Child do, but we knew what The Child was capable of and the idea was for The Child to also learn and to respect the edge of that knowledge. We also enrolled The Child in gymnastics as soon as possible so extra training in coordination could be had. The child is an athlete and spends the day running and jumping and climbing. The accident that caused the above photo was something The Child had probably done a hundred times before. Accidents happen, thankfully we have insurance, the healing is successful, and I have no doubt The Child will do it again. I think we've been successful in laying a foundation of thoughtful risk-taking, so I'm not worried.

Regarding the pins -- even though surgery was required to place them, removing them was just a tug and a pull. With no anesthestic of any kind. The screaming was awesome.

A veritable suckfest of wrongness

Wherein on the other hand that's two #7s in a row And no subtext that I'm aware of

1. ???
2. Forechecking is 12 letters. Goaltending?
3. ???
4. mushrooms
5. ???
6. America the Beautiful? wrong country
7. They've all slept with a man with one testical. Or they're all former teachers.

Acoustic motorbike

Wherein I recommend Brooks saddles

George Street bike challenge

Luka Bloom

Queen -- NSFW -- unless your workplace sponsors nude bicycle races

Massive track crash

Why I always biked alone

TdF 2003, the Beloki crash. At least this clip doesn't have the audio of him screaming in pain.