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Friday, April 30, 2004


    "What will tourists think of a habitat of denuded trees with desperate, starving koalas roaming the damaged landscape?"

Sounds like a children's version of Mad Max.

More, here.
Welcome, to 1990!

The iPod is in a grungy mood this morning. The last seven songs were:

  • The Fastbacks: "Beaujolais' The Beat", from the great Estrus "Half Rack" compilation
  • Nirvana - "In Bloom", from Nevermind
  • Nirvana - "Spank Thru", from the "Sub Pop 200" compilation
  • Led Zeppelin - "Bron-Yr-Aur", from Physical Graffiti
  • Dickless - "Saddle Tramp", from Sub Pop's "The Grunge Years"
  • The Wrens - Thirteen Grand, from The Meadowlands*
  • Sonic Youth - Silver Rocket, from Daydream Nation

It's like being in college again, but without the unappreciated lack of responsibility.

OK, a few songs past that, and it's played another Sonic Youth song from Daydream Nation (the perfect SY album, IMO), another Nirvana song, and a song from my first college band, a grungy little rock combo that played a few Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Mudhoney songs.

I think it's trying to tell me something.

* Sure, The Wrens song is a new one, but it fits right in with its neighbors.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Thursday, April 29, 2004


I normally avoid Lileks because I find his politics obnoxious. But, when he avoids politics, he can be clever and funny (at the same time!). Oh, why can't we all just get along?

Anyway, here he is going over recipies from the 50's: Gallery of Regrettable Food. Some of these things are truly horrific, like Mashed Potato Surprise, which he describes thusly:
    Okay, here we go. It’s “Mashed Potato Surprise.” The recipe calls for a special kind of mushrooms: canned mushrooms. Which you feed to the dog. The trick is get him to throw up right in the middle of the mashed potatoes.


Nikon N80, Kodak Ektachrome 100, 70-240mm

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


I've been paying attention for the past 33 years, and I'm pretty sure if I was to visit any "classic rock" station I would find a shelf with these CDs, and very few others:

That there is just about all you need to run your own Classic Rock (!!!!) radio station.

Some of those, like .38 Special and Molly Hatchet, would only be needed for a single song (ex. "Hold On Loosely", "Flirting With Disaster"); and most of the others would only use a small handful of songs.

I grit my teeth and curse my rotten life every time I Turn It Up!, but I can't help it - now that our local NPR station is into their 1/4ly fundrasier, I have to listen to something else and I'd rather listen to the same 100 20-year-old songs on our local Home of Classic Rock than sit through even a minute of any of the rest of the crap I can find on my car radio: teeny-bopper dance stuff or country ballads.

Today someone called to request Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog". Uh... Duh? ... of course they're gonna play that. If you know enough to know which station would honor that request, you have to know that they play once it every fuckin 2 hours. People amaze me.

"Hey, could you guys play a really loud ad for a local car dealer ?"
"Right on, man! We'll get that right up for you. Who plays the best Classic Rock and Car Dealer ads?"
"Rock 69!"
"Rock on!"

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Superia 400, 70-240mm

Monday, April 26, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Superia 400, 70-240mm

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Sony D7

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Nikon N80, Kodak BW 400, 105mm macro

Friday, April 23, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 28-80mm

Thursday, April 22, 2004


CNN says:

    "American workers should stop trying to be heroes and just stay home when they're sick-- it could be cheaper for their employers, according to a study.

    Workers who come in sick cost their employers an average of $255 each per year, according to Cornell University labor researchers.

    Sick employees have difficulty concentrating, work more slowly and have to repeat tasks, bogging down productivity, according to the study. (They also get their co-workers sick, but those costs were not counted in the study.)"

This is something that bothers me to no end: people who think their contribution to the company is sooooo important that they need to risk making everyone else sick, just so they can come in long enough to spread their disease before they leave early.

Just. Stay. Home.
American Idol

Utterly shocking results last night. The three people who can actually sing end up in the bottom three, and the other four, who range from moderately O.K. karaoke fodder to simply awful, sit by stunned, fully aware there's a huge injustice being committed. A travesty.

As a non-paying viewer of this utterly trivial contest, I demand a full inquiry.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Worst song ever

According to CNN, Blender has compiled their list of the 50 worst songs of all time. The Blender site only lists numbers 50 through 40, but CNN lists the top ten (not in order):

  • "We Built This City" : Starship (they report this as being the #1 worst song ever)
  • "Achy Breaky Heart" Billy Ray Cyrus
  • "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" Wang Chung
  • "Rollin'" Limp Bizkit
  • "Ice Ice Baby" Vanilla Ice
  • "The Heart of Rock & Roll" Huey Lewis and the News
  • "Don't Worry Be Happy" Bobby McFerrin
  • "Party All the Time" Eddie Murphy
  • "American Life" Madonna
  • "Ebony and Ivory" Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

I've discussed this topic at many parties over the years. I always submit "We Built This City" as worst song ever, and always get appreciative head nods on doing so. It's an utterly inane and soul-less song, polished to shine like cheap plastic. It's an insult to Marconi and to San Francisco.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 70-240mm

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Gaps in the record

Found this comprehensive rebuttal of the creationist talking point that there are "gaps in the fossil record" (which they claim disproves evolution) : And by comprehensive, I mean exhaustive, encyclopedic, sweeping and thorough. Whew.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro, double exposure

Monday, April 19, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Friday, April 16, 2004

In the fat part of the curve

So, I thought I was having a big revelation, all by myself, when I discovered the pleasures of Random Shuffle on my iPod. How silly of me to think my experience is unique.

Wired pops my bubble:

    Napster revolutionized music distribution, but massive libraries of digital music and capacious players like the iPod are upending listening habits through something very simple but profound: random shuffle.

    When music lovers first discover the iPod, or software like Winamp or iTunes, they often rhapsodize about the joys of randomly shuffling tracks.
    "I have seen the future, and it is called Shuffle," writes Alex Ross, the New Yorker's music critic, who seems to have recently acquired an iPod.

    Stuffy old listening habits -- like listening to albums from beginning to end -- are being thrown out in favor of allowing machines to choose songs at random, which often leads to unexpected, and magical, juxtapositions of music.

Then, this guy comes along to kick me when I'm down:
    James Kellaris, a professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati and author of a study about tunes that stick in your head, said the appeal of random shuffle is likely generational.

    Kellaris said random shuffle likely appeals to the MTV generation -- kids with short attention spans who are likely "brain damaged."

Oh great. Like I needed to hear that the same week I hear this:

    People who drink the equivalent of three large glasses of wine a night can suffer brain damage similar to that seen in chronic alcoholics, research suggests.

    Scientists found that people who consumed more than 100 drinks a month — around 130 units — suffered from loss of memory, reduced intelligence, poor balance and impaired mental agility.

While not getting too personal, let's just say I'm within striking distance of that 100/month.
Wax on

I am a MASTER of the English language!

While my English is not exactly perfect,
I am still more grammatically correct than
just about every American. Still, there is
always room for improvement...

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

That'd be a lot more meaningful if you couldn't get the "master" rating by simply choosing the first option for each question: as I did while trying to get to the results page while attempting to fix the picture (which wouldn't let me link directly, for some reason).
Favorite word

Merriam-Webster Online wants to know your favorite word.

Mine was "sylvan", because I think it's fun to say.

Sony D7

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Nikon D100, 50mm

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


defective yeti shows us a strange picture. I won't spoil the fun by discussing it further.
Smooth Music

"The Makers of Smooth Music" is a compliation CD of songs recorded in the 60's and 70's by companies who, for a fee, put your lyrics (no matter how awful) to music, with a live band!

I'll transcribe the lyrics to a few of these songs here, for your amusement.

Richard Nixon
    God, in his infinite wisdom
    Put Richard Nixon on this earth
    To bring to us his heritage
    One of priceless worth

    A courageous leader
    And a blessed man
    Surely in God's plan

    His heritage is from Heaven
    And the magic from above
    The rapture of music and melody
    Of culture and of love

    Yes, God, in his infinite wisdom
    Put Richard Nixon on this earth
    To bring to us his heritage
    One of priceless worth

    A leader with endless courage
    A miracle you might say
    And all who have met Nixon love him so
    The genius of his way

    God, in his infinite wisdom
    Put Richard Nixon on this earth
    To bring to us his heritage
    One of priceless worth

Jimmy Carter
    Can our government
    Be competent
    Jimmy Carter says Yes
    Jimmy Carter says Yes

    Can our government
    Be honest
    Jimmy Carter says Yes
    Jimmy Carter says Yes

    Can our government
    Be decent and open
    As the 39th President, he has spoken
    Jimmy Carter says Yes

      As your President, I, Jimmy Carter
      Know it is possible to run a government efficiently
      With out sin or any corruption
      I will do my level best
      To run the government decently without any statement of eruption
      Errors and wrongdoings I will reveal to the public
      For corruption whie I'm in office I will not barter
      I'll stand tall like Old Glory, faithful to the Republic
      Security will prevail as sure as I'm the President
      President Jimmy Carter

    Jimmy, Jimmy Carter
    Our 39th President
    Jimmy, Jimmy Carter
    Our 39th President

John F Kennedy

    On that very sad day John F Kennedy was called away
    We didn't know he was leaving Washington to stay
    And now he is gone
    And all we can do is sing these songs
    He had no fears
    Even though many people have shed tears
    And when John F Kennedy was called to rest
    I know that he did his best
    He tried so hard
    To give each and every one a start
    He tried to make the rich man see
    If it wasn't for the poor man, how could we eat?
    In Dallas out in the street
    Someone wanted to see him defeated
    He saw that there really was no use
    Because there's nothing anyone wanted to do.

Of the 25 or so songs on the CD, only these three are about US presidents. The rest are about groovy things like vans, roller-disco, drums, dancing, astronauts, gettin it on, etc.. Each song is crazier than the last; and all are so bad as to leave you slack-jawed: how could someone write those words? How desperate for work must those musicians have been to put any effort at all into trying to make those words sound good ? When the author got the record back, did they realize how stupid those words really were, or did they shop the record around, trying to get radio play ? So many questions. Most of them are amusing in some way, or at least grotesque enough to keep me listening, but one or two are actually so bad I can't find anything redeeming about them at all.

As amusing as they can be, though, it's tough to sit through all 25 of them at once. But having one pop up now and then on the ol' iPod shuffle is good for a chuckle now and then.

Nikon D100, 70-240mm

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Monday, April 12, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Nikon N80, Kodak BW 400, 105mm macro

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Nikon D100, 105mm macro

Friday, April 09, 2004

Funny truth

Found this in the comments at Crooked Timber:
    "I remember as a college student being really puzzled by politics, and wondering how people could make such passionate, detailed arguments saying exactly opposite things, until I realized that (in politics, anyway, unlike boxing maybe) there is no such thing as objective truth. So I decided to go to law school instead of grad school, and now I believe whatever I get paid to believe."

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Salon has an article about Fox's latest abomination, The Swan. My wife and I watched it last night - I don't know why. In this one, Fox teaches women that if you're average-looking, you should be desperate for lipo, plastic surgery and therapy, because beauty is a contest and if you're not prettier than the girl standing next to you, you won't go on to the Big Pageant; you'll be a loser.

Nikon D100, 105mm macro

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Giant Pans

The iPod is feeling frisky (or maybe I'm simply trying hard to put intent and meaning behind what are actually random events; maybe i should take up a religion). Anyway, just now, the iPod came up with a particularly jagged sequence of songs: from a long dirgy Sunny Day Real Estate song to a balls-out Archers of Loaf song, to a peaceful 20 second Adrian Belew guitar synth soundscape, to the reason I'm writing this, Coletrane's blistering Giant Steps.

Hearing the latter in headphones is strange: the sax and piano are panned hard-left while the drums are nearly hard-right (except for a little high-end stuff that bleeds through) and the bass is hard-right. So basically you have the two lead melodic instruments frantically fighting it out on one side of your head and the rhythm section chugging along on the other. It's the aural perspective of someone standing in a doorway between two reflection-free (no echo) rooms with half the band in each room. It's a very unnatural sound, and a bit unpleasant, frankly. There's no reverb on the intruments (none that my iPod could reveal anyway), so I assume the intention was to get a live and uncolored sound. But, why then pan the instruments to create a sonic situation that would probably never happen in real life? Still, a great song and performance, just strange mixing.

Then it played They Might Be Giants' goofy little 27-second "Theme From Flood".

Nikon N80, Kodachrome 64, 105mm macro

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 70-240mm

Monday, April 05, 2004

Fortress of Solitude

TBOGG writes about Jonathan Lethem:

    I had the opportunity to start reading Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude (graciously purchased for me from my Amazon wish list..thank yew) and it's really good. Beauifully written. I read his Gun, With Occasional Music (which was okay) several years ago, and I never would have thought he was capable of this. In fact, I passed on Motherless Brooklyn because of Gun.

Gun, With Occasional Music was the first Lethem book I read (on reading a little 1/4 page review in the back of a Time magazine when it came out in the early 90's). I loved it, and I've read everything he's written since then. Most of it has been worth reading, and some has been very good indeed. But, Fortress of Solitude almost ended up in the Started But Never Finished pile because it really bored me. I only finished it because the book was a gift from my darling wife. I thought the writing was far too clever and the story too slow and pointless. Maybe that's because I was expecting something else?

All of Lethem's other books are all fairly small, with clearly-defined plots and there's often a sprinkle or more of sci-fi thrown in to keep the ol' imagination working. But this one was a long flashback of his own childhood (not exactly an autobiography, just inspired by his childhood in the 70's, according to an NPR interview i read). And while there were interesting topics like, the music of the time, the tagging and drug cultures, the troubles of a white kid in a black neighborhood, etc., there just wasn't a whole lot of plot to grab onto. About halfway through I started thinking, "OK, where is he going with all this? He's introduced a half-dozen different things that could be a plot if he pushed one of them a little, but none are grabbing me, and he's not making any one of them really stand out." Instead, he just wanders through 10 years or so of his childhood and describes all the stuff that happens to him and the people around him. All the people around him fall apart, or worse, and he ends up basically the same person he always was - alone. Was that the point?

If we ever work together, you and I, and you are sick, stay the fuck home!!! Really, don't come to work!!! Your contributions are not so valuable that you need to risk infecting everyone else.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Nikon N60

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Nikon N80, Kodachrome 64, 105mm macro

Friday, April 02, 2004


Pabst Blue Ribbon is making a comeback. This article at CNN says that PBR is popular again with kids of all ages:
    "It's really popular with not only the college students but also the working class guy and the Social Security crowd," said Lilias Barisich, whose family has operated the bar since 1954.

The arch-cool kids like it for its obvious anti-pop-culture appeal:

    "There's a theory that there's a niche out here for a consumer that's anti-marketing," said Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer's Insights.

    Betty's owner Lessner said, "People are really sick of the Budweiser-type marketing with naked girls and cars. Pabst is kinda hokey and nostalgic and people like it."

And of course, the price; you can get one for $1.50.

Yet they don't mention the best reason: Dennis Hopper, as Frank Booth in Blue Velvet recommended it heartily: "Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!!!"

Still, I'll likely never buy a six pack of PBR for home. If cheap beer is what I need, then I'm always a sucker for extra-pale Rolling Rock, or that other cheap Pennsylvania beer: Yuengling; now that they've put some marketing behind their beer, I can find Yuengling way down south in NC. There's plenty of cheap or nearly-cheap beer with far more character than PBR.

Of course there's a time and a place for ultra-cheap beer with no character: college. In my college days, all we drank was Golden Anniversary, cause you could get it for $8 for 24, or $2.50 for a six. At that price, everything else was a luxury - even The Beast or PBR's cousin, Old Milwaukee. You'd save yourself the price of two packages of ramen noodles - perfect for tamping down that sweetish, churning, warm G.A., at 2AM.

Nikon N80, Fuki Neopan 1600, 70-240mm

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Scam the scammers

CNN reports:

    A former Harvard University instructor of medicine who was arrested on Tuesday for conning friends, colleagues and Internet acquaintances out of $600,000 was himself duped when he trusted other swindlers with the money, police said.

    Weidong Xu, 38, quickly lost his ill-gotten loot by investing it in a dubious Nigerian business offer he received by e-mail. The spam message promised gains of $50 million, police said.

There's nothing on the page that says if this is an April Fools joke or not.

Sony D7

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.