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photos of the month - october 2019

November 1, 2019

This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically woke and all that stuff... You should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids and, you know, share certain things with you.

One danger I see among young people particular on college campuses is a sense -- among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media -- that the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people, and that's enough. If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn't do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, cuz, 'Man, you see how woke I was, I called you out.' Get on TV. Watch my show. Watch Grown-ish.

That's not activism. That's not bringing about change. If all you're doing is casting stones, you're probably not going to get that far. That's easy to do.

new music playlist october 2019

November 2, 2019
Some really solid 4 star songs in the second half of the month. Give that it was the month of HONK!fest, surprised that didn't have more of an impact...
Coming Home Baby
Cool remix of a classic swinging song.
We play a simpler version of this in JP Honk, Matt sent around this link.
Green Day
Protest-y 90s alt-rock.
Aleksandra arranged a version of this for the Second Line Brass Band and tried to explain the bass line to me to play at a BABAM thing.
Lady of Spain
Eddie Fisher
Old school.
My dad was fond of the naughty version of this (Lady of Spain / I Adore You / Pull Down Your Pants / I'll Explore You...)
93 'Til Infinity
Souls of Mischief
90s hiphop, nice slow groove.
Played in the Netflix movie "Always Be My Maybe"
Threw It On the Ground
The Lonely Island
I love the sound of this hiphop, even though the song is a bit inane. Still, "I THREW IT ON THE *GROUND*" is catchy.
Random youtube recommendation from doing last month's music wrap-up, specifically "aceyletone"
Where Is My Mind?
Dreamy. Or nightmarish.
Weirdly I didn't know about this recording until I was googling a link to last month's piano cover of it - and I realized it was just a cover.

Blood of the Fang
Hiphop - similar vibe as Childish Gambino "This is America"
Found in a tumblr entry.

I Get No Joy
Jade Bird
Look out for this artist, she's going to be huge.
Arun mentioned her cover of "Walk Like an Egyptian" and speaks glowingly of her in general.

Harder Than You Think
Public Enemy
The sample (Shirley Bassey's 'Jezahel') makes this my favorite song this month.
Some show had this on.
Johnny Cash with June Carter Cash
I like how every once in a while I run into a new to me Johnny Cash song.
Referenced in the novel Tell The Wolves I'm Home (set in the 80s) - the main characters were singing along to it.
Waltzing Matilda
Slim Dusty
Traditional Australian song (though of course now I always think of Tom Waits' Tom Traubert's Blues...)
Referenced in the novel Tell The Wolves I'm Home - question in a Trivial Pursuit.
Go Cut Creator Go
LL Cool J
80s hiphop leaning pretty heavily on that Johnny B Good clip, but I love how it modulates that one guitar chord...
Referenced in the novel Tell The Wolves I'm Home (set in the 80s) - it mentioned an SNL episode with LL Cool J.
Monster Mash
The Misfits (feat. John Cafiero)
Higher-energy cover of the old halloween classic.
Heard at the Gallery X Halloween Fundraise in New Bedford.

Baby's on Fire
Die Antwoord
Hard not to be fascinated by Die Antwoord and Zef in general... love the big acoustics of this one.
On a Spotify List at Miller's Jack-O-Lantern Carving.

Stereo MC's
Could do without the "I patted your behind / And ya givin' me aggro" but overall this song has a great sound.
Not sure where but I think it's been on a Best of Booty compilation.

November 3, 2019

Poem I wrote in high school or college, then thought lost, then found 2 years ago, then forgotten that it had been unearthed:
A rock sat in the woods, thinking,
for many years, of many things.
Realized God and His plan
How to perfect life for plant and man
but it was a rock, and rocks can't speak
so it had to keep it to itself
I'm fascinated by it as an early instance of a thought I later had, how the interior lives and origins of things matter so much less than their surface interactions...

November 4, 2019

Whatever you may have thought about Hillary Clinton, my daughter watched as a highly experienced and qualified woman lost a job to a neophyte dilettante cartoon character of a white man who openly bragged of molesting women. My daughter isn't dumb. She got the message.
John Hodgman, "Medallion Status"

via. But I do get my friend point out this inter-generational conflict is not great, and may be a semi-manufactured way of reducing class solidarity.
You don't have to wait for the end of the world. It ends a little every day.

November 5, 2019

Color is a fiction of light.

At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens — that letting go — let go because you can.
Toni Morrison, "Tar Baby"

Nice Quora: If I shine a flashlight at Mars, does a small amount of the light actually reach it?. Someone is chanelling my childhood!

November 6, 2019

There are only four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? And what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same: only love.
Don Juan (from the movie of the same name)

November 7, 2019

While I grant that Yoda's characterisation in the prequel trilogy has serious continuity issues, the basic premise of his character arc doesn't bother me – I have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever believing that the Yoda we see in the original trilogy has committed war crimes.

My first encounter with the weird sex aspect of the Internet, back in like 1993 or so, was the text The Sexual Adventures of the Smurfs, describing the annual orgiastic "Smuckfest". (R-Rated link, I suppose, but kind of too goofy to really titillate.) "And, as is his privilege, Papa Smurf throws out the first throe" is an idiosyncratic turn of phrase that has stuck with me... like, the throes of passion? But singular? Weird.
Lovely piece on Mr. Rogers and the upcoming movie with Tom Hanks. There's a religious stance that so deeply molded everything about Fred Rogers - but his lessons in the public square were purely humanistic and secular, which I think is worth noting.
Want to help? Focus on lowering Drug Consumption in US. Want to help some more? Stop the ATF and Gun Law loopholes from systematically injecting high powered assault weapons to Mexico.

growth and judginess

November 8, 2019
Grooming old blog entries I found this article about comic artist James Sturm giving up the Internet (which made it so much less convenient for him to get reference art, for starters.)

He solicited letters during his Internet-fasting-process, and the article has some of those turned into comic panels. This one struck me:

It reminded me of my estranged debate partner and friend EB, whose frustration at himself and me for our respective bad habits was sometimes palpable - and to be fair, he was pretty good at making mindful choices and exclusions to cultivate his life.

For me and my fixed mindset, it’s weird, the feeling of self-hatred referenced in the comic is more “you can’t grow unless you declare your previous self an idiot for getting yourself into these patterns in the first place"… but your previous self was probably about as smart as you are now! (See Tallulah Bankhead's "If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.")

Obviously that fixed-mindset stance excludes the whole “learning from experience” possibility and is therefore kind of stupid… but recognizing that there were better decisions that could have been made earlier requires a judginess I find difficult to muster for other people, much less myself.

(Compare to EB, who judges freely and often, with great and often justified confidence, but some terrific misses -- bold misjudgements. For me, a fear of such misjudgements - that I asserted my subjective viewpoint over somebody else's, and was unjust and unempathetic and wrong to do so - keeps me from judging much in the first place.)

I mean when you look at your current habits and how they were formed - you can guess it would have been better to have lived otherwise, but you don’t know, and so the mandate for mustering the willpower to make a change is that much less…

This all brings to mind one final quote, also from an autobiographical comic:
Sure it mattered. When you get to my age you discover that everything mattered. Life isn't a series of good and bad choices. It's harder to steer it one way or the other than most people think. You just get pulled along. You look back and you wonder 'could I have changed the course of my life?' Maybe you could've ... but it would probably have taken a tremendous force of will.
Old Man in Seth's "It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken"

Following up on that to EB:
I guess you and I would both agree incorrectly judging something is wrong - especially when you're forcing your opinion over someone who ends up being correct. But for you it's an acceptable (and necessary) cost of doing business, and hopping to the meta-level, endlessly not judging can be judged to be a bad life pattern as well. All while my delicate ego keeps me as far away from being incorrect as possible and only asserting things I am overwhelmingly confident about.

My first attempt at jogging was in middle school- I think to try and improve my gym class grade or something, around the hallways of the school. I remember the gym teacher responsible for that discouraging me from listening to music on a walkman, citing something about blocking alpha or beta waves or what not. Was there something to that or was it just new-age-y hokum?
Content Warning: Diet and Food Stuff
(I have at least one friend who reacts badly to this stuff, so, fair warning.)

Realizing calorie counting works better than good-intentioned food journaling.... Kind of obvious, I suppose. But part of my fluffy cloud of economic privilege is that I measure the cost of food in calories not dollars - and so given that the lunches and snacks at work are free to me dollar wise, I guess I need the accountancy of quantifying the calories, rather than trying to juggle my good intentions against my random hungry impulses.

Calorie counting that for a few days - even though I have to guess, or go out for a Blaze pizza or Chipotle salad not for nutritional reasons but because I can have higher confidence estimates of the calories - has given me a satisfying feeling of control (which I know is a fraught thing for people with more serious food issues.) In fact, I'm able to have more generous evening meals because I know what the numbers are.

And without calorie counting... it's like "all this food is free! In both money and calories! So why not?"

I know my "calorie is a calorie is a calorie" thinking is naive - diets create responses in our metabolism, and the other part of the game is figuring out satiation within that calorie limit - but this kind of math is the only thing I've found to work for me, in the 4 times I've lost 10-15 lbs over the past decade and a half. ( diet.kirk.is for the graph)

six seasons instead of four

November 9, 2019
One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn't feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on.

Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. November and December aren't winter. They're Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold!

What comes next? Not spring. 'Unlocking' comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They're Unlocking.

Kurt Vonnegut, 1978 commencement address at Fredonia State
Been thinking about this off-and-on ever since I saw it a week ago in kottke (who says Vermonters name for Locking is "Stick Season", after the foliage has gone, and Unlocking is "Mud Season", the byproduct of all that snow melt...) What a beautiful idea - Vonnegut was talking about Upstate NY but it applies to so much of the Northeast, where I've pretty much always lived...

One of the things I love about this is that it lines up the Seasons with the Calendar year! I've been doing stuff like "One Second Every Day" seasonally, and it irks me that Winter is December, January, February and so straddles the year boundary. (I always prefer the meteorological season reckoning to the overly-cerebral astronomical pattern...)

November 10, 2019

Hung out with Cora yesterday, I showed her my emberley animals and then we made this together:
click to play

I also made a virtual orrery which mirrored the cardboard and wood sun/earth/moon model we had just constructed out of a Kiwi Crate.

hello, drum taps my old friend

November 11, 2019
Candace posted a link to Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think or as she said "One of [her] most desired and favorite sounds..."

It reminded me of this formative anecdote I don't think I'd journaled before, though I know I've talked about:
One lesson I carry with me is from this one ill-advised "24 hour march-a-thon" my high school band ran as a fundraiser for a trip to Atlanta. Participating students took shifts: one hour marching, two hours resting. (and I made it more surreal for myself with a combination of a box of taco bell from my mom and by accepting my AFS brother's donation - with its contingency that I wear his green tinted sunglasses the whole time, waking and sleeping.)

We started right after a Friday night football game, and by Saturday late morning we were already pretty wiped - most of us had given up playing our actual instruments and switched to percussion. And then to make matters worse they sent us down to the indoor track rather than the corridors of the school where we had been marching, because other students were taking the SAT or similar that day.

So the booming percussion echoing in that short-ceilinged made everything more hellish, until some wise person in that shift figured out we could just go to "taps" - not the funereal trumpet song, but this minimalist "tik....tik....tik-a-tik...." pattern the actual drum squad would play on their drum rims when the band needed to keep in step but had to be quiet.

The difference to my nervous system, from a barrage of loud percussive chaotic thuds to the minimalist, controlled "taps" was palpable - a true balm and blessing at the time and a lesson that has stuck with me ever since.
Not quite "silence", so maybe a tangent from the original article, but with a similar energy.
I had forgotten about Jamie Livingston: some photos of that day - a polaroid taken every day from March 31 1979 until the artist's death in October of 1997.

I did the date math (with my own Time Toy) and realized just this year I've been doing daily blogging for longer than this project ran. But of course blogging doesn't have the focus (no pun intended) of a photo every day. Also it feels like charting the 80s and 90s was inherently more interesting than the 2000s and 2010s...

Of course now I'm doing "One Second Everyday" [sic] and have been for... yikes, 6 1/2 years? I kind of don't know to stop... it just seems so odd to say "yup my early 40s were extremely well documented but nothing else was".
CAPTAIN:Trouble with a long journey like this is that you end up just talking to yourself a lot, which gets terribly boring because half the time you know what you're going to say next.
ARTHUR: Only half the time?
CAPTAIN: Yes, about half I'd say.
Douglas Adams, "The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts"
Shades of E.M. Forster "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" - Adams really has some sly and wise commentary all over the place.

November 12, 2019

Years of work and effort are required before true freedom can be attained in this art [of ideograms], before it becomes an intimate and personal means of expression. The results, however, are to be included among the great aesthetic attainments of mankind. I believe it possible to argue that the failure of Asia to develop an art of music comparable to that of the west was due to the fact that in the east the need for abstract beauty found full satisfaction in writing; the same satisfaction that Europe discovered in the harmony and orchestration of sound.
Fosco Maraini, "Meeting With Japan"
A fascinating book (my copy rescued by EB from a municipal book swap shed) - it's from the late 50s where Maraini, a photographer and anthropologist from Italy, returns to Japan after being interred there during WW2. There's a lot to unpack in his stances and assumptions, but I think about this attitude about music a lot, especially when I'm trying to think about how much of the music I know is universally human, perhaps with roots in biology - like how the human nervous system itself responds to the underlying math of harmonies and rhythms - and how much is a cultural construct. I feel like I've seen a few other quotes suggesting that the level of complexity and detail in classical Western musical notation is unique, but I don't if that's deeply true or just chauvinistic rah-rah.

Something about the mood; the chords, the instrumentation, the lyrics: it's like it's tapping into the heart of every un- or semi-requited love I've ever chased after and I'm beyond misty about it.

2019 November❮❮prev