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photos of the month - september 2019

October 1, 2019

Open Photo Gallery


October 2, 2019

Got a new iphone (my craving for the bestest camera leads to this, one of bigger indulgences) I took this picture half asleep and in the dark last night.... was impressed by how much it got at so little light but now i see it's made the cat a spooky faceless thing....

People say age is just a number, yet this truth glosses over the fact that number refers, rather crucially, to the number of years one has been alive.

september 2019 new music playlist

October 3, 2019
New music I added to my playlist, a little lighter than some months.
Thunder and Blazes
Big Top Orchestra
AKA "Entry of the Gladiators" or "that clown music" - I like the fast pace of this version!
Been on a small "brass music I know and/or played" kick lately

Lipps, Inc.
Famous song, it has some interesting bits acoustically speaking...
We play this in School of Honk. I sort of forgot it had lyrics....
Duramax (feat. Young Gunner)
Lenny Cooper
Good ol' boy Hiphop. Trucks blowing black smoke to own the libs is not my culture, but I like the use of the voice modulator and the fiddle
every noise has this as the exemplar for the genre "redneck".

Ride (EP Mix)
Cary Brothers
Wistful and longing.
I am so endlessly enamored of their cover of Something About You that I'll always keep my eyes open to them...

Where Is My Mind
Maxence Cyrin
Piano cover of the Pixies song (didn't realize it was a cover at first... not sure how I feel about that vs when I thought it was such a lovely sparse piano piece...)
One of the Chapelle specials used this

Very sweet english piece about a 5 year old driving in a piece of construction equipment with his daddy.
The artist for this was in Belmont Porchfest, and namedrops Ed Sheerhan being influenced by this...

Booty Boogaloo
The Party Band
Love when this piece falls into cut time... Party Band taught that to folks at a HONK! festival song share session.
Saw Party Band play it live, bought their CD.

Mad World (feat. Gary Jules)
Michael Andrews
Sad version of a famous song.
Sam made up a ska-tinged version of this for JP Honk and I realized I didn't have this famous slow cover.
Like Dis, Like Dat (feat. Pop Sykle)
Young Droop
Raunchy slow groove hiphop.
Heard a song by the same name and similar spirit on "Derry Girls", but different song I found.

For What It's Worth
Crystal Bowersox
Modern country cover of "Stop, Children, What's That Sound"...
I was kind of hoping to find the cliched "woman singing slowly in a minor key cover" used in Jack Ryan Season 2 trailer but no luck - still this version is kind of neat.
Club Yoko
Fun but way-over-produced studio song...
From a Samsung Galaxy commercial I think.
Day Drinking
Little Big Town
Modern country. Kinda like how I like songs and jokes about marijuana more than I actually partake, "day drinking" in a social way always seems nice.
Mentioned on Jeopardy on this montage of Alex Trabek saying "genre"
Heck No! (I'll Never Listen to Techno)
Fun Indie-Pop...
Rediscovered the lite-brite video for this I posted a while back.

Mic Check
Good hiphop. This video has a freestyle the my copy of the song lacks.
This artist was on the old Scion Mix CD ("Lost Your Mind)

from pleated jeans:

October 4, 2019

Tim-buddy, until I see the a near equivalent of this from the democrats, I'm going to cling to my view that your opinion (admittedly stated 12 years ago or more, but I don't think you're likely to recant) that Republicans and Democrats are just about as bad when it comes to gerrymandering is R,O,N,G wrong.

Do you really think so many Democrats are just that much better about following instructions about "burn your notes and tapes on this"?

A leaked audio recording reveals how state lawmakers are taught to trash evidence, avoid the word gerrymander, and create an appearance of bipartisanship.

And new computer programs have made it worse.

I have some minor sympathy for the concept of the "Goldilocks principle", that they can neither pay too much attention to race or too little, but still. They are pretty damn blatant about their agenda, vs say California Iowa and New Jersey that according to the piece are getting fairer and more competitive maps with independent commission or bipartisan efforts.

This one kind of makes me think about gravitas. My view of the importance of seeking the confirmable objective truth makes me a bit susceptible to things stated in a confident, intellectually-sound sounding manor - I assume the speaker has done their due diligence and isn't putting their own personal agenda ahead of the facts...

"proud to be a european, where at least i know i'm likely to get six weeks paid vacation" redux

October 5, 2019
15 years ago, I quoted this passage:
Though historians seldom allude to it, the American Dream is largely a European creation transported to American soil and frozen in time. [...] The American Dream emphasizes economic growth, personal wealth, and independence. The new European Dream focuses more on sustainable development, quality of life, and interdependence. The American Dream pays homage to the work ethic. The European Dream is more attuned to leisure and "deep play." The American Dream is inseparable from the country's religious heritage and deep spiritual faith. The European Dream is secular to the core. The American Dream depends on assimilation: We associate success with shedding our former ethnic ties and becoming free agents in the great American melting pot. The European Dream, by contrast, is based on preserving one's cultural identity and living in a multicultural world. The American Dream is wedded to love of country and patriotism. The European Dream is more cosmopolitan and less territorial.
At the time I wrote
That "frozen in time" aspect has really started to bother me lately, especially when I hear arguments based on the "intentions of the founding fathers". The world has changed over 200 years, and while the durability of the union (along with the fact that the constitution does have an appropriately stodgy amendment mechanism) indicates that change shouldn't be taken lightly, it seems amazing that people putting forth that argument want us to use a time before the end of slavery and the start of woman's suffrage as an ultimate reference point. I also dig that "secular to the core" aspect, along with "live to work vs work to live" USA/Euro split.

The author doesn't claim that Europe is perfect, but its constitution and outlook, less unbridledly optimistic than the American and with a strong sense of interdependence, might be more attuned to the modern world where barriers to long distance communication and trade have dropped in so many ways. Also the author seems to be asserting a new bipolar USA vs. Europe outlook without consider how, say, China is doing, not to mention the rest of the world.
I'm trying to think through the downsides of the European Dream model. Both dreams are challenged by insular groups: fear of ethnic groups that decline to assimilate in the American model, or that won't recognize the supremacy of the secular in the public square in the European model.

I think there's also unease that a looser group will be at a disadvantage against larger, more ethnically or doctrinally cohesive rivals: China, Russia, or some kind of Islamic coalition if it ever got through (one way or, hopefully not, another) its internal splits. The American and European dreams have made room for a lot of technology-driven prosperity which has given those place hard to surmount leads, but to the extent the tech can be copied without the doctrine, the contests can become that much tighter.

October 6, 2019

The Care and Feeding of the Uffington White Horse Through More Than 100 Generations is an amazing tale. It has been pulling the community together for 3000 years - almost half again as long as Christianity. That is amazing.

October 7, 2019

trebek: this everyday plague is actually a subtle form of hubris

contestant: what is worry

October 8, 2019

"An' it'd be our own, an' nobody could can us. If we don't like a guy we can say, 'Get the hell out,' and by God he's got to do it. An' if a fren' come along, why we'd have an extra bunk, an' we'd say, 'Why don't you spen' the night?' an' by God he would."
George in Steinbeck's "Of Mice And Men"
This passage stuck with me from when I read the book in middle school - just that vision of what it means to have and control your own place and be able to offer hospitality. Lines in Taylor Swift's song Lover (as seen on SNL) reminded me of it ("We could let our friends crash in the living room / This is our place, we make the call")

October 9, 2019

The circus is the only ageless delight that you can buy for money. Everything else is supposed to be bad for you. But the circus is good for you. It is the only spectacle I know that, while you watch it, gives the quality of a truly happy dream. The big cats do things no cat would ever do. You can see them jumping effortlessly over Mr. Konyot's head instead of making that unbelievable low rush they close with in the dusk when the female lion shows her cubs the way to kill.
Ernest Hemingway, writing in the "Circus Magazine and Program" for the 83rd Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
Reposting from 15 years ago or so - of course the "ageless" aspect is tempered by an awareness of the treatment of animals. And this passage ends with what almost feels like a parody of Hemingway's "manly" writing...
It's a five-minute walk from my house to the pub.
It's a thirty-five minute walk from the pub to my house.
The difference is staggering.

October 10, 2019

Oh my God, what if we're just people?
Megan Phelps-Roper, who broke away from the Westboro Baptist Church.
A quote from Sam Harris' podcast about that need for believers to ask what are you left with if you can't be assured of the divine source of your holy texts.

It's interesting hearing where those believers grapple with some of the same problems skeptics have: the contradictions between the availability of repentance and salvation despite everything being predestined by God mirrors me trying to figure out how free will exists in a universe that seems governed by physical laws of cause-and-effect (or quantum randomness - but that doesn't help the problem.)

Sometimes fundamentalist interpretations (across religions) feel more consistent and true to me than more relaxed ones, even as I despise their conclusions and actions - but sometimes their extrapolations from their faulty initial premises have an admirable clarity. I reject their conclusions, of course, as will most humane people, believer and non-believers alike... but I then don't know how that's not a call to a universal humanism.

October 11, 2019

Happy HONK weekend! Here's an old but a goodie, an oral history of HONK...
winter hat and sandals. do i contradict myself? very well, then i contradict myself

October 12, 2019

One thing I remember from helping a native Russian speaker polish their English - "a spoon" vs "the spoon" was pretty easy but "this spoon" vs "that spoon" was tougher.

So I'm trying to codify my intuitive understanding of "this" vs "that" - Today I was editing a sentence from an old blog entry the started, roughly, "This poem captures the voice..." - but the comment came after the poem. My inner copy editor wanted to change it to "That poem...", but had the sentence preceded the poem (and ended with a colon) I absolutely would have stuck with "this".

So I guess there's kind of a temporal element to it? Like you use "that" when what separates the particular object from its peers has already been established - like "give me that spoon!" when the potential giver has already been using it. But "give me this spoon" might be used, along with a pointing gesture, to pick out a spoon from a bunch of its peers where what makes it different has not been yet established.

Of course, if you really didn't care which spoon, if there was no difference among them, you might say "give me a spoon". So kind of a spectrum: "a spoon" when you don't care which, "this spoon" when the narrowing is yet to happen, "that spoon" when it's already been narrowed down (but perhaps a peer spoon would have done) and "the spoon" when there's effectively only one spoon in that class.

chill out, spartacus

October 13, 2019

"Hey Ted, thanks for lending me 'All Man.' I read the whole book last night, and it's really put me in touch with my true inner 'Brute Force.' It changed my life overnight."
"That's fantastic, Reuben. Y'know the chapter by Charlton Heston really helped me to admit that I've always like swimsuit calendars, and that I never wanted to be 'a sensitive male.'"
"Hey you wanna go find a parking lot and beat the hell out of some total stranger?"
"Chill out, Spartacus"
Max Cannon, "Red Meat"
One of my favorite comics from college - I still use "Chill out, Spartacus" when someone is being needlessly aggressive. (Looks like the original was circa December 14 - December 20, 1995)

jp honk @ pronk

October 14, 2019
JP Honk played PRONK!

October 15, 2019

Nice piece from Slate, The 36 Bits of Software That Changed Our Lives (Of course, a casual geek might wonder if that should be 32-Bit, but 18- and 36-bit machines were a thing back in the day...)
Pumpkin Carving at Millers!

Melissa's is the top left, mine is a custom design in the top middle... I tried to use the stem as an elephant's trunk, but I think the result was more "monstrous owl"....

Miller was totally on brand tho...

filed away

October 16, 2019
Simon Pitt writing on "Computer Files Are Going Extinct" (or "The Death of the Computer File.doc") had this nice line:
Years ago websites were made of files; now they are made of dependencies.
I would nitpick and say "files plus browsers and maybe a scripting language", but I think Pitt points to a major sea change. For me, coding is still about files - nouns - and then very well tested trustworthy verbs of the browser itself, and not too many intermediaries. Now coding is so much verb, so much process, and younger programmers put raw DOM into the same "low level stuff I don't need to think about much" level as an older CGI hacker might put assembly language.

The rest of the article was kind of delightful for us old-timers, reviewing how services and streams and what not have replaced quasi-physical files.

And I think that's a bummer. I'm currently reading Barbara Tversky's "Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought". It really emphasizes how there's a physicality to our thoughts, that we turn to metaphors of space and motion all the time to make sense of our experiential data - and with files and folders, there was a physical nature to our filesystems as well. I kind of hate the iPhone's "all your photos as a big stream" approach to life, or using "smart folders" to take a giant heap of information. Folders can be clutzy and coarse grained, but there was a flexibility and sense of stability to them that the modern replacements lack.

October 17, 2019

Slate continues a really excellent series on computer programming, Hello, "Hello, World", about the glory of that little program and the hubris programming can generate...
Interesting piece on the oddball time signature of The main song from the movie Terminator... basically it's topsy turvy because of difficulty setting up loopers (I often wonder about that, people who use realtime looping devices, how they get a clean even looping.)
"Hey, you know, I've been thinking," Toby said. "You know that I'm dying, right?"
Toby had never said anything like that before. Nothing so big. So definite. I felt numb. Like cold, hard concrete had been poured into all the little spaces in my head where I'd been hiding maybes.
"I guess."
"Do you see what that means?"
"I think so." "
Tell me."
"It means you won't be here much longer."
Toby nodded. "Yes, there's that, but, also, do you see? It means I can do whatever I want. We can do anything we want."
Carol Rifka Brunt, "Tell The Wolves I'm Home"

October 18, 2019

it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and be thought a fool, speaking requires too much effort when you could be using that energy to think of all the fool activities to do, such as eating a poison berry and falling down a well.

It's one thing to say, 'I don't fear death', but to laugh out loud somehow drives the idea home. It embodies our theology.
Rev. Laura Gentry

Today my Yoga teacher said that there's 2 types of tired, one where you require sleep, the other when you require peace. I really felt this.

You know what's cool? Concrete. It's liquid rock!

October 19, 2019


Why do people get angry when I try to share the word of God with them? I only do it because I care about them deeply and don't want them to end up in hell. I feel like some people avoid me because of this. Is there any way to get through to them?


The entire process is not what you think it is.

It is specifically designed to be uncomfortable for the other person because it isn't about converting them to your religion. It is about manipulating you so you can't leave yours.

If this tactic was about converting people it would be considered a horrible failure. It recruits almost no one who isn't already willing to join. Bake sales are more effective recruiting tools.

On the other hand, it is extremely effective at creating a deep tribal feeling among its own members.

The rejection they receive is actually more important than the few people they convert. It causes them to feel a level of discomfort around the people they attempt to talk to. These become the "others". These uncomfortable feelings go away when they come back to their congregation, the "Tribe".

If you take a good look at the process it becomes fairly clear. In most cases, the religious person starts out from their own group, who is encouraging and supportive. They are then sent out into the harsh world where people repeatedly reject them. Mainly because they are trained to be so annoying.

These brave witnesses then return from the cruel world to their congregation where they are treated like returning heroes. They are now safe. They bond as they share their experiences of reaching out to the godless people to bring them the truth. They share the otherness they experience.

Once again they will learn that the only place they are accepted is with the people who think as they do. It isn't safe to leave the group. The world is your enemy, but we love you.

This is a pain reward cycle that is a common brainwashing technique. The participants become more and more reliant on the "Tribe" because they know that "others" reject them.

Mix in some ritualized chanting, possibly a bit of monotonous repetition of instructions, add a dash of fear of judgment by an unseen, but all-powerful entity who loves you if you do as you are told and you get a pretty powerful mix.

Sorry, I have absolutely no wish to participate in someones brainwashing ritual.

Interesting point. I think too about other ways some religions really work for that don't-get-comfortable-with-them approach... even non proselytizing ones like Judaism, maybe all the food restrictions are there in part to discourage sitting together to break bread... (Also I think of E.O. Wilson's remark "The illogic of religions is not a weakness in them but their essential strength. Acceptance of the bizarre creation myths binds the members together.")

(I'm thinking about how my history with The Salvation Army fits into it. From its origin in the mid-1800s on through the mid-1900s, it was doing a TON of streetpreaching, going to the pubs and using brassy music and fervent words to bring people away from the devil and demon rum, and its tales of its own history were full of successful conversions. The church was more sedate by the time I got there. (Or as it asked itself, "Has The Fire Gone Out?") but non-crowd-blending trappings like the militaristic uniforms remained, at least for those most intensely involved in the church... but generally, only on Sundays, while historically some folks might wear the uniform daily.)
A line on the Judge John Hodgman podcast makes me think about how my demographic, "Generation X", is sandwiched between larger groups. I guess it makes me feel a little special. Here's a piece explaining us so you can market to us and here's a nice rant Generation X is sick of your BS.

For all the complaining, it's been a great generation to be a techie in, at least for the dudes: growing up with home computers in the 80s, then riding the first dot com boom... if you survived the post-Y2K implosion you were probably in good shape.

October 20, 2019

Today I am marching in solidarity with the spooky skeletons that are inside us all, waiting to get out. #justwait

October 21, 2019

I LOVE living on the top floor!! love to look out my window in my robe and scowl at the wretched earth
Yeah! Living on the 3rd floor can be annoying (like when you get to your car and remember something you left in the apartment) but it's kind of awesome seeing "eye to eye" with trees...
17 Years ago I made this tiny GIF of this video clip:

It's a timelapse view shot of Central Wharf in Salem, MA, over the weekend from my shared office window when I was working at Taxware. It was cool that one of the days had such neat cloud cover. Over the years I've often recalled how the tide looks like breathing.
Trump can't stop flipping the bird to people he doesn't like. His 11-D chess of pretending to fix his hair his brilliant!

Yeesh, Remember him practically tearing his notes in two after the debate with Hillary?
if you approach the claw machine only hoping to win a prize you are missing out on the true joy of slightly moving objects around.
Similar to why I am sometimes tempted to put money in a vending machine and select an empty slot and watch the twin spirals move, turning what would have otherwise been a crass act of commerce into mechanical performance art.
impeachment.fyi is a pretty good site for catching up with the relevant news items. Thinking about how often Rudy Giuliani shows up in this mess - it suddenly hit me how much Trump must've loved having the former mayor of New York City as his personal employee, like what a power trip from the 90s... and also hilarious what an incompetent bumbler Giuliani is in the role.
Been enjoying this series looking into various designs of spaceships called Enterprise... I know "in-unicerse" the Enterprise is pretty important, but still, it seems kind of goofy that A. every Enterprise has the same number with just a different letter and B. back in TOS, each ship had its own cool little logo badge, but then they said "welp, this Enterprise one is pretty rad, lets just go with that".

Rather delightful LEGO stop-action:

October 22, 2019

Supreme Court wipes out ruling on Michigan partisan gerrymander saying these are "political questions beyond the reach of the courts" -- can anyone explain what ISN'T a f***** political question these days, and therefore something the court can stay mute on, assuming another 5-4 majority likes the status quo?

This camera angle is literally perfect 🎥

(via @NFL)pic.twitter.com/cascDTgIEx

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 20, 2019

more info...

October 23, 2019

‪Not my circus, not my monkeys. But I think that this might be my elephant, here in this room.

You should read this twitter thread if you need a 101 on the lengths racists have gone to stop black people from getting ahead

October 24, 2019

Give me something
to bite my teeth into,
like your wool socks,
gray and soft,
best when worn without shoes,
displayed, kicked up
on the coffee table.
Better yet...
your jeans; five pockets,
rivets, amber thread stitching,
with a zipper fly.
Again and again they thump
and tumble
with mine in the dryer.
Never offering resistance
to its heat.
I admit to being frightened
at the thought
of such a hunger.
Tery J. England (in Spare Change News in 1999)

A piece on the background of that old brilliant VW ad featuring Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" (Heh, along with Saints Go Marching In... what is it about apocalyptic music?)

Never has an ad filled me with longing for a car before, and never since. The article mentions capturing the transcendence of driving in a convertible at night, and I can feel that, even though I don't think I've experienced it. Plus all the incidental shots, the guy in the back seat sneaking glances at the gal as she gazes at the night sky overhead...

Found that article while grooming old blog entries, specifically this one where I post 2 other absolutely brilliant ads from VW around the same time - ("Da Da Da" was good too but didn't quite make the cut)

why (this) guy(s) don't wanna talk about it

October 25, 2019
(Some parts of this may seem familiar to people who read my previous navel-gazing rambles, but public writing is sort of a part of my therapeutic journey, and repetition is certainly a part of therapy - you don't want to just churn your wheels, but it's rare that a singular moment of insight makes a permanent change in behavior and outlook... that's my excuse anyway.)

I know that I have an idiosyncratic way of looking at my obligations and "shoulds" in group settings, springing from my intuition that Truth (capital T - the criteria for best goals that the dictate what the "shoulds" are) is objective. I mean, reality is reality whether you believe it or not (to quote Flava Flav: "You can't stop reality from being real!")

Truth is objective in the sense of not being a matter of individual choice - but it is also obscure, permitting individuals of good will trying to see it, but never to claim full certainty about their view of it.

(This is some of why I'm not on board with promoting gathering as "people of Faith(s)" for its own sake - Faith is good when it quells anxiety or paves the way to positive action, but mostly I see Faith saying "well, I'm gonna presume I'm right, so anywhere we disagree, you're wrong." That seems arrogant and lacking empathy to me.)

So one implication of searching for the objective best is that in any group setting, from playing in a band to being in a 1-on-1 romantic relationship, I figure out what to do by summing up the pluses and minuses for members of the group (myself included). If I don't feel like playing tuba that day, a gig might be -20 for me, but my presence there is +100 for my small band that would struggle without a bass - so +80 and I go on the gig. If a choice with Melissa is a +10 for me but -20 for her, I shouldn't do it, because that's a net -10 for us. And objectively, Us is better than Me- closer to objective value.

But a further implication is, I don't want to talk about problems I have unless I think the communication will actually help fix the situation. In general, sharing a problem doesn't seem inherently useful to me - it just makes two people anxious about something! (I'm already on a project to be less anxious in my own life, because more often than not anxiety is better at stopping productive work than urging it forward.)

So, how the math works out: +5, my partner might have a good idea about solving the problem that I haven't thought of. -10 my partner might get anxious about it. -5 I don't like having my own possible incompetence shown off. (Shades of toxic masculinity, I suppose.) So more often than not, my intuition isn't to share. Or at least not to dwell on it - I believe in transparency in general (since, again, for me Truth is objective but the more sets of eyes you have looking for it the higher confidence you can have in the outcome.)

Come to think of it- this behavior had roots in after-school questions with my folks- "How was school today?" "OK" "Anything you want to talk about?" "No.". I wouldn't want to burden my mom or dad about something unless there's a path to them fixing it- otherwise I'm just making them feel bad too, for no good end.

I know that this is half-baked math, and that in the long run communication is important, and all that jazz. I'm just laying out what my intuitions are so I can decide when to share, even when the best course is against my intuition.
Me (young, naive); I hope something good happens

Me (now): I hope whatever bad thing happens is at least funny

October 26, 2019

14 years ago I posted this Laffy Taffy joke:
Q. What kind of tea can be hard to swallow?
A. Reality
"The Tea" is such a meme now - even the center of frickin RCN ads - and it's probably unrelated, but I could see it coming from this kind of wordplay. (Hell, I'm not sure I believe bae's commonly received origin story...)
I'm not trying to argue in the book that the scarcity mindset is either shallow or completely useless. If you're caught in a warzone, if you're in a poverty-stricken area, if you're fighting for your survival, if you're in a competitive sport like boxing, the scarcity mindset does play a very important role.

Most of us are the products of people who survived in what was for a very, very long time, in our evolution as a species, a scarcity-oriented universe. Food was scarce, resources were scarce, fertile land was scarce, and so on. So we do have a very hard-wired tendency to be scarcity-oriented. But I think what has happened over time is we don't have to literally fight for our survival every day.

I think that as intelligent beings we need to recognize that some of the vestiges of our evolutionary tendencies might be holding us back. If I'm at an advertising agency, for example, or in software design, those are the kinds of fields where it is now being shown in quite a lot of studies that you actually perform better if you don't put yourself under the scarcity mindset, if you don't worry about the outcomes and enjoy the process of doing something, rather than the goal.

I'm wondering if that scarcity mindset tends to amplify the tribalism we see in politics now. Even folks who have pretty comfortable clouds of privilege and relative comfort, there's this human tendency to raise the stakes about everything, make everything urgent. I wonder though - that kind of contradicts this idea that life was pretty good and maybe easy for humans when we were small groups of hunter-gatherers. I wonder if people in groups were most often what we'd see as relaxed, or if it was constant stress.
Some interesting thoughts on stadium design - how it's about community and thoughtfulness...
Two views from the Annual JP Dog Parade - JP honk was able to muster a quintet- the first is actually a screenshot from a video I took at the head --

Not sure who took the second, but they say it's #nofilter - lovely foliage and vibrant band outfits...

top 10 influential recordings challenge

October 27, 2019
On FB, Don Mitchell tagged me on one day of his challenge -
"i nominate Kirk to do the 10 influential recordings challenge in whatever way he wants if he wants to pick up the challenge"

I made up a list without realizing his approach was more album-centric. But I tend to be much more single-song minded. And I thought I'd especially emphasize works that influenced my own musicianship, such as it is - so there's some overlap with my "best songs ever" but not quite. And since they're just singles I decided to take advantage of "in whatever way he wants" and do it in one go...

Atari 2600 Moon Patrol - This little riff... I stole it and called it "Space Cadet" - it is JP Honk's default warm up tune, and I have played on my tuba behind so many different sets of musicians, who are generally able to easily pick up on its 12 bar B-flat blues goodness, and so much musical pleasure has resulted.

Maynard Ferguson's cover of Chameleon - props to Herbie Hancock for the original, but this brassy super funk version was a huge influence - probably as a staple of high school stage bands in the 80s, and now deep in the HONK repertoire. (The CD was one of the first 3 I bought when my family got a CD player)

Dvorak New World Symphony, Movement 4 - Kind of a cheat, I had a recording of this but it was probably playing it in Orchestra class that stuck it. When I listen to https://kirk.is/features/92bluesandbass/ I realized I was throwing the opening bit (right after the "Jaws" opening) in like every other jazz solo I played.

Blues Brothers' Peter Gunn Theme - Such a thumping bassline. And I remember when Euclid High Stage Band rebranded itself 222nd Street Jazz, we looked to Belushi and Aykroyd's rip off of the African American bluesman as our sartorial guide.

Canadian Brass' St. James Infirmary - I remember listening to his tape over and over in the basement writing a middle school essay on Charles Babbage. I got the sheet music for this song, and in college did an extremely misguided attempt to audition for a college a cappella group with it

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band's Inside Straight - The New Orleans album was also one of the first 3 CDs I got. I brought it to Portugal, visiting the guy my mom and I hosted, and this album was an obscure bit of Americana there - their artsy director friend used this song for the opener for a fashion show / poetry reading they put together. Years later I'd be joining in with a rough version of this kind of music w/ various HONK bands...

Weird Al's Another One Rides the Bus - I was a pretentious kid who fancied himself smart, and got the idea that smart people liked classical and jazz and had disdain for pop. So I tried to like only classical and jazz and cultivated disdain for pop. Weird Al can be a critical gateway drug in such cases - at first you like it because he's mocking pop music, but then you realize you like pop music...

Madonna's Hanky Panky - My high school marching band did a great cover of this, and I loved its big rollicking percussion. Later I got the single from the dollar store - it's playful take on light kink is kind of naughty fun.

Salt-N-Pepa's Shake Yo Thang - Borrowing heavily from "It's Your Thing" (but with arguably better percussion) this song introduced me to the Isley Brothers and great crossover music in general

Deee-Lite's Groove is in the Heart - My one secular religious ritual is, when I hear this song, I have to dance, even if just a little bit... and it sits at the very tiptop of my personal "best songs ever". The chance to play this in School of Honk cemented my relationship with the ensemble. (I mean I'd probably be there anyway but still.)
BONUS! Found this - Weird Al doing Another One Rides the Bus live on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder.

Impressed by Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz' alternate percussion... and Weird Al puts so much heart into it...

October 28, 2019

Two quotes from Barbara Tversky's "Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought":
Space places two fundamental constraints on movement, constraints that are reflected in thought: proximity--near places are easier to get to than far ones; and gravity--going up is more effortful than going down.
The second is very near and dear to my heart:
Speed and accuracy trade off in just about everything we do; the trick, as with all trade-offs, is to find the sweet spot.
(This a side-effect of her first of Nine Laws of Cognition: "There are no benefits without costs.") At some point in my development, some dial got twisted all the way up, so I look at the surface broad stroke interactions of things and have a hard time attending to their fine detail, or inner being. I think this has allowed me to punch above my intellectual weight in some cases - I'm an extremely fast reader (i.e., a skimmer who goes back to the tough bits) and having this speed to always go back and check things was a huge help on the SAT.

For what it's worth, I corresponded briefly with the author - about a tweet's worth of thought from me, but she's not publically on twitter, and so I'm sort of charmed with how many academics will have their email on their public-facing web page, and how many authors are willing to spare a quick email reply to a polite reader.
Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'
Anne Lamott, "Bird by Bird"

LOL, Watching Trump and Melania's faces fall as the way the crowd is booing them sinks in...

October 29, 2019

Word of the day (from a Therapy session) - Conviviality! So whenever anybody says the word of the day, scream real loud!

October 30, 2019

Every DNC fundraising email.

the end of the world as they know it

October 31, 2019
On FB my buddy Tom wrote:
You may have heard of a CAPTCHA, which is that puzzle or random letters thing you have to do on some sites to prove you're a person. It stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.


But have you heard of the RAPTCHA? It's the Really Awful Public Test to tell Christians and Heathens Apart.

My response was:
Growing up with this stuff... I got the bejeebers scared out of me by a Sunday School class on Revelation, showing a Christian facing a firing squad for his belief, etc.
Later I learned there's this doctrine of "pre-tribulation" - that the big sweep up to heaven for believers happens BEFORE the s*** hits the fan.
This has always felt like a milquetoast, consoling philosophy, that this whole "God wouldn't let that happen to US, right?" is a rather unbiblical way to soothe children and people with childlike faith - actually similar to how I feel about how Cartesian dualism explains away annoying questions about having to preserve bodies til the resurrection at the end of the world, and also you can say stuff like "I'm sure grandpa's sitting on a cloud looking down at us right now, Timmy".
Even though I'm not a person of faith for any of it, I still resent people who cherry pick the parts that go down smooth a bit - though there's another, possibly wiser part of me that understands it's probably a good way of bringing out the healthier and more supportive parts of a religious upbringing - maybe more carrot than stick is a way towards reaching potential rather than being cajoled into doing right out of fear.
and then:
But the whole Rapture/Revelation thing sometimes feels like an excuse to not be good caretakers of the earth. Hollywood realizes that the people working to bring on the end of the world are hardly ever the good guys... why can't evangelicals see that?

Oh, right, my old carve your own jack-o-lantern virtual toy...

So, we've noted an uptick in my snoring. I think it's mostly related to some seasonal post-nasal drip, but I'm up at the high part the range where my weight has been, so I thought it might be worth trying to redouble my efforts to get below 200 again. So today I started a food log. Man, even when you're eating pretty well, when you write everything down it looks like some sort of weird King Henry feast.
The werewolf detested his human form -- skin so smooth, so thin, so easily turned to ribbons. Dull senses delivering a bland world. Too much claw traded for brain. And so each day, he dreamt of moons.

Melissa wanted to be a Magic 8-Ball and I wrote a little program we stuck on an old iPhone so she could have a working answer window...

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