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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ma'am, we're not going to go down there and escort your Western bacon cheeseburger

Here's a woman who called the sheriff because Burger King wouldn't give her the right hamburger.

It sounds like a Crank Yankers call, but I doubt they'd call the sheriff as a joke. I could be wrong. I hope so...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Meet Lurch.

Oh, Cherry

Nikon D100, 105mm macro

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Cherry Cherry

Nikon D100, 105mm macro

And after Bradford Pear season, comes Sand Cherry season. These guys used to live in our back yard. Now they're going to die in a vase in our kitchen.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tea leaves

Instead of just reporting the iPod's first ten songs of the week, let's see if we can use them to predict how the rest of the week's going to go.

  1. John Coltrane - Good Groove. Groovy little tune from Coltrane's dance band days. If you ever need a good intro to John Coltrane, check out the compilation called "The Last Giant" - it spans his whole career, from dance bands of the 40s to his "free jazz" freakouts of the late 60's.
  2. Soundgarden - Sub Pop Rock City. Reworking of Kiss's Detroit Rock City as a tribute to the Sub Pop record label. It appears on the "Sub Pop 200" compilation. When this came out, in 88, "grunge" hadn't escaped Seattle, and the bands featured here, like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney, were practically unknown anywhere else.
  3. Elliot Smith - Pitseleh. Quiet little chunk of depression from Smith's best album:
      the first time I saw you I knew it would never last
      I'm not half what I wish I was
      I'm so angry, I don't think it'll ever pass
      and I was bad news for you just because
      I never meant to hurt you

  4. Colorblind James Experience - Considering a Move To Memphis. This is the quintessential CBJE song. It's one bar repeated for 6 minutes, with various instruments taking tasteful solos over the top. Every once in a while, for the choruses, the music stops and the members chant, "I'm considering / I'm considering / A move to Memphis / A move to Memphis / I'm considering / I'm considering." The rest of the lyrics are a spoken-word tale of why the singer wants to move to Memphis:
      Memphis isn't all that big
      It isn't all that wide
      Still it is the kind of place
      Where a country boy can hide

  5. Spoon - Jealousy. One of Spoon's perfect little songs. The handclaps and the reverb-soaked piano break reminds me of the Beach Boys.
  6. Leon Redbone - If We Never Meet Again This Side Of Heaven. The sound of the mythic elegant South.
  7. Robert Johnson - Me And The Devil Blues. That other mythic South.
  8. Pixies - Build High. Strange little country-fied B-side. Kim Deal and Frank Black... what a pairing.
  9. Rolling Stones - Sweet Virginia. Not one of my favorites, especially out of context like this - I much prefer it smack in the middle of Exile.
  10. Velvet Underground - Heroin. Fantastic song. The proper setting for hearing this one is sitting alone in a dark room, eyes closed, empty headed, riding that one organ note. The opposite of the proper setting: sitting at a computer in khakis on a Monday morning, wondering how much longer you can keep working at something you hate just because the money makes it easy to enjoy the four hours a day you don't have to think about the job.

So, what does that tell us about the upcoming week ? I think it says: I'll hate my job and not do anything about it.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Nikon N80, 105mm macro, Fuji Sensia 100

It's Bradford Pear season in NC. These white flowers are everywhere right now, covering the smallish trees like snow. While they look nice, they smell exactly like the air from the inside of a tire.

(this image has been resized and re-saved so many times, it's lost most of its fine detail. but, i'm too lazy to re-scan the slide. sorry.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Missing Link

Somehow, except their unavoidable hits, I managed to go 34 years completely ignoring the Kinks. I blame it on their mid 80's stuff - that song about tearing down the dance hall, especially - I couldn't stand it. Hated it. Lumped it in with Tina Turner and Wang Chung and the rest of the cheese-encrusted 80's pop abominations.

A few years ago, I got the Rushmore soundtrack, which had a couple of really good, old, Kinks songs on it, and my interest was piqued - but only a bit. They were no longer just That Band With A Bunch Of Hits That Turned To Shit (no, not the Rolling Stones) - I got a hint that there might be some depth to this band. And, finally, disgusted with the state of new music these days, I turned to the past: Pink Floyd (got "Wish You Were Here", to replace my beat up vinyl copy) and the Kinks.

So, I just got my first Kinks album: "The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society". I'm four songs into it and I realize now where the Lilys, Big Star and Guided By Voices come from: they are direct descendents of the Kinks. Especially the Lilys. It's not that they kinda sound like they heard the Kinks and nicked a bit of the sound on a lark; it's more like they sprouted fully-formed from Ray Davies' forehead. I really like the Lilys, but they sound so much like The Kinks that I'm thankful I heard them first, else I would've dismissed them immediately as mere rip-offs.

Robyn From The Front

Sony P7

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Sony P7

Robyn Hitchcock, last night, at The Pour House, Raleigh, NC (max occupancy ~145).

Great show, as usual. According to his website, the night before in Nashville, he recreated his current album live with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, so last night, he did mostly mostly older songs - only two from the new record, I think. That was OK with me, since that left more room for songs I'd never heard him do live before ("Madonna of the Wasps", "Vibrating", "Ole Tarantula", etc). I got a lot of pictures like the one above, and got a little MPEG movie of him doing "Vibrating". The sound on that came out so good that I'm going to put it on my iPod - good job, little Sony P7!

At the end, he put down his electric guitar and grabbed his acoustic. Then he ripped off the pickup and cords that were taped to it, stepped off the stage and walked into the crowd to do a truly unplugged (not even a microphone) medley of George McCrae's 1974 disco hit "Rock Your Baby" ("Woman, Take me In Your Arms / Rock Me Baby"), Dr Hook's "When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman" and David Bowie's "Sound And Vision".

Then he signed some autographs. When we got to him, my wife asked if she could get a picture. He said "nothing personal" but he didn't like to be photographed. Ooops. :)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Start your iPods

First songs of the week, presented without comment:
  1. In The Kingdom #19, Sonic Youth
  2. Strange - REM
  3. Blinded - fieldfresh
  4. Young Neil - Blonde Redhead
  5. Tom Courtenay - Yo La Tengo

  6. I'm Set Free - Yo La Tengo
  7. Tell Her Tonight - Franz Ferdinand
  8. Fashion - David Bowie
  9. Mistakes & Regrets - And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
  10. 86-Second Blowout - Yo La Tengo

OK, one comment: 3 YLT songs in the first 10 seems like an abuse of probability.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The slow painful throttling of humanity

If he could, he would demonstrate his loathing of monsters by acting monstrously! Behold his righteous savagery !

Or, better yet, don't.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Catch a wave

Motorola v550

Caught this little ad hanging on a wine rack at a local supermarket today.

Haven't seen the movie yet, but I did hear that Pinot Noir is a part of it somehow (I'll guess the title has something to do with storing wine bottles on their sides). Still, I was surprised to see this.

I'd like to pretend I'm insulted by it, since I've been a fan of Pinot for a long time (harrumph). And I learned about it the hard way - by buying and drinking lots and lots of different kinds of wine - not by being steered by something as crude and pedestrian as advertising. I like to think I'm not so easily led - but, I'm kidding myself.

When I bought my first Nick Drake CD, it had a little sticker on it with a Volkswagon logo that said "With Pink Moon, as featured in the VW Cabriolet commerical!" While I initially snickered at the blatant commercialism, I have to admit, that great commercial - where the group of pretty hipsters drive around what looks like the Florida Keys at night listening to Pink Moon instead of going to that rockin house party - nudged me into buying that CD in the first place.

So, maybe someone will see the sign, try a Pinot and say "Hey, yeah, this soft supple wine really is a nice change from the usual Merlot / Chardonnay routine. It's worth the extra two dollars a bottle!" And then there will be more Pinot Noir at the parties and get-togethers I end up at, and even better, maybe someone will buy a bottle as a gift for me!

The Grift of the Magi

Via The Panda's Thumb, an amazing discovery: Magi Astrology!

You see, these folks have proved that "Darwinism" is a hoax, because :

    Darwinism is based on the premise that parents who have the greatest ability to survive have this advantage because of their genes and they will usually pass on this advantage to their children because the children inherit the parents’ genes. But if parents cannot pass on such advantages to their children, then Darwinism cannot work.

    We will prove on this website that our children’s special abilities are not the result of the parents’ genes but rather is due to the children being blessed enough to be born during special planetary alignments. Therefore parents cannot pass on their advantages to their children. This breaks the Darwinian chain of events necessary for Darwinism to work. Therefore, Darwinism is wrong and false.

Wow, Magi Astrology is sweet. But what are genes for, then?

    Our genes determine that we are human beings as opposed to being a cat, dog or any other species. But our natal chart tells us how we differ from other members of our species, especially in terms of our personality, likes, dislikes, preferences and our relative abilities and talents.

    To put it another way, it is our genes that make us human beings rather than dogs, cats or some bird. But it is our astrological natal chart that tells us what kind of human being we are most likely to be and what abilities we are blessed with. Genes will determine some of our personal physical attributes like the color of our eyes, hair and skin. But our natal chart gives us accurate signs about the type of person we are most likely to be - whether we will be submissive or aggressive, artistic or logical, etc.

    Our natal chart will give us reliable signs about our special abilities and talents - for example, the stars can foretell if we can be great musicians or athletes, or math geniuses or great writers. Even though scientists claim otherwise, Genetics simply will not tell us what special talents we are blessed with.

Hmmm. I guess that makes sense. Sounds pretty powerful, this astrology stuff. Can it do anything else?

Of course it can! You can use it to do stock predictions! Wow!

So, where did this amazing science develop?

    The Magi Society began as a secret society in China and remained a secret society until 1995 when it published its first book, Astrology Really Works!

Ah. So, Chinese astrologers can give me stock tips, personal advice and tell me how to improve my love life just based on the positions of planets? Yep. If only JFK Jr or Merck or John Kerry knew about this magical science !

Unfortunately, the special software required to do all this is not free, and doesn't even have a set price: it's available for between $43 and $350, and you have to send them email and discuss it before they'll even sell it to you.


Oh well

Two butterflies found a flower
And soon the mood turned sour
It's mine! cried the tallest
And pushed off the smallest
Such are the duties of power

Monday, March 14, 2005

Starting the week

And here are the first ten songs my iPod came up with this week, with commentary!

  1. I Don't Know - Chris Bell. This is a little pop masterpiece from Chris Bell of Big Star. The song (and the album it comes from) never made an official release while Bell was alive. It wasn't released until 1992, 15 years after it was recorded. I have it on a Rycodisk promotional sampler A Little Big Star that showcases Ryco's releases of Big Star Live, Sister Lovers and Bell's solo album.

    Bandmate Alex Chilton gets most of the accolades for Big Star; but it's clear, after hearing Bell's and Chilton's solo stuff, that Bell contributed mightly to the overall Big Star sound. And, when Bell left, their sound turned from chiming Beatles/Byrds-like 70's power-pop to a strange paranoid and bitter version of the Velvet Underground. Bell deserves more credit, in my opinion.

    The chorus from Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun" brazenly steals the bridge in this song.

      I don't know what I'm going to do
      You don't know you're putting me through

      What did her daddy do ?
      It's Jamie's Last I.O.U.

    Same melody for each.

  2. The Day It Rained - Smaller Animals. A five song track, featuring me and my guitars. All somber, minor-key instrumentals. They're part of the same track (CD track, that is) because the CD burning software I had at the time couldn't create CDs without putting gaps between songs, and I wanted these to all run together. The first part, The Day It Rained, is an acoustic guitar piece recorded during a strong thunderstorm on the back porch of our apartment. I don't remember what I called the other pieces.

  3. Surrey With The Fringe On Top - Miles Davis. I knew this version before I ever heard the Oklahoma version, so it's possible for me to listen to this without singing along - unlike everybody else in the world, apparently.

  4. Polka Dots and Moonbeams - John Pizzarelli. Not really familiar with this song. John Pizzarelli has a nice voice, but I like his guitar playing better, and this song is a slow soft piano ballad. It fits right in after that Miles Davis track, but isn't what I need at 10am on a Monday.

  5. Toys In The Attic - R.E.M.. Ah, that's more like it. I knew this version before I ever heard the orginal Aerosmith version. It rocks. I played the record this came from, Dead Letter Office, constantly, when I was in high school.

  6. SWLABR - Cream. Love this song. Learned how to play (something resembling) it recently. But The Rainbow Has a Beard ... love them Cream lyrics.

  7. Play - The Cure. This is a B-side or an outtake from the Disintegration / Wish era. It sounds a lot like Letter To Elise, which means I don't care for it.

  8. Car Radio - Spoon. A quick little thing, which would've been only half as long if not for a strange little Nirvana-esque insturmental break in the middle. Like a lot of Spoon songs, it sounds like a great idea that got sketched-out and recorded without any further thought. It's both Spoon's charm and their greatest fault. Maybe they could be huge, with a bit more polish, but then they'd lose the thing that makes them special. I prefer them this way.

  9. Happy & Bleeding - PJ Harvey. I really liked PJ Harvey during her Dry and Rid Of Me period - from which this one comes. Then she dscovered drum machines.

  10. Thank You Friends - Big Star. This particular copy actually came from the same Rycodisc sampler that the first song in the the list came from, but properly, it's from the final Big Star record, Third/Sister Lovers. Chris Bell had left the group during the recording of their second album, and by this album, all traces of Bell's sweet, optimistic power-pop had been scrubbed away; all that remained was Chilton's self-indugence, frustration and bitterness: "Thank you friends, for making this all so probable," he sings. One of my least-favorite tracks from my least-favorite Big Star record.

Friday, March 11, 2005

New Star Wars

We were talking about it at lunch today. Sadly, I missed the trailer, cause there's no way I'm watching no O.C.. But I think I know the basic plot anyway - it's the stuff that has to connect Ep 2 with Ep 4. Duh. Someone asked the question "why are Yoda and ObiWan the only two Jedi to survive? and how did they manage it?"

Well, I think Vader spared Yoda and ObiWan so they could serve as living fossils, so that nobody could ever forget what Jedis stood for. All the rest were killed to physically intimidate other wanna-be Jedis, otherwise, they'd turn into outright traitors to the Empire.

Or maybe that's what I heard from Limbaugh and Coulter. I forget.

Black Hole Sun

Motorola v550

My cellphone's camera doesn't handle bright light very well.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Kings of the Road

Motorola v550

Motorola v550

Maybe driving down the middle of the road is just the thing to do in NC... ?

And just let me note again - the black spots on the side of the road (to the right of that Mustang, for example) aren't holes, they're fresh pavement. Three weeks ago it was a hole; now it's new road.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Brain dead doctors

Ampersand writes:

    It would be bizarre to claim that a CAT scan can accurately show that brain anatomy is essentially absent, but cannot support a claim that absent anatomy isn't functioning.

Indeed it would. Read the rest as Ampersand takes the legs out from under the medical affidavits filed by medical experts on behalf of Terri Schiavo.

And when you've finished that, go read Majikthise's expose on the qualifications of those "experts". For example:

  • Not a single one of the so-called experts has even examined Terri. Generally speaking it is considered unethical for a physician to diagnose a patient without examining her. Only a handful of the "experts" even claimed to have reviewed her medical records. Most filed from outside the state of Florida.
  • Two of the experts identified by the Schiavo Foundation website as "Dr." hold no doctoral degree of any kind (speech and language pathologists Hyikn and and Lakas), and a third claims to have a doctorate in "neuroscience" but admits under oath that his PhD is in clinical psychology (Dr. Hooper).
  • Dr. Richard Neubaeur wants to treat Terri with hyperbaric therapy, herbs, and acupuncture. It should also be noted that Dr. Neubaeur is also the owner of the largest neurological hyperbaric clinic in Florida and that his affidavit reads like an infomercial.

Just for the record: if multiple CAT scans show that my cerbral cortex has turned to liquid, don't bother trying to keep my body alive. My cerbral cortex is the only place I exist, and my body isn't really worth preserving.

It's Been Scientifically Proven

I suspect that the human tendency to find evidence of Intelligent Design in everything we see is probably genetic.


Find yourself to time to waste and head over to the New York Public Library's Digital Gallery:
    NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 275,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.

And it's all catalogued and browseable and searchable and clickable... ahh.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Motorola v550

I take back roads to work, because the main roads are full. These back roads are in pretty bad shape (including a couple of stretches where there is no pavement at all). But, they are still two-way roads, and as such, it's expected that people will keep to the right (the yellow lines make it easy to tell where to drive).

But, people in SUVs and trucks don't do that. Instead, they like to drive down the middle of the roads, to avoid driving over sections of road where holes have been patched. Yes, see those dark spots in the picture? Those are patches - new blacktop where there used to be a hole. They're smooth enough to drive on, even in my stiff little Beetle; but people driving vehicles that are advertised as being able to cross streams, climb mountains, pull a boat up a ziggurrat, while the driver sips her latte, are afraid to drive over a rumbly little patch in the road.

I expect to be killed one day, by an SUV driver who preferred to drive down the middle of the road, rather than subject himself to the horrors of letting his suspension do its job.

And yes, taking pictures while driving is much safer than driving down the middle of the road....

Saturday, March 05, 2005

In the backs of our minds we think

Dad's an English teacher at a community college in upstate NY. Over the years, he's built a collection of the truly awful things some of his students have handed-in. Here are two:
  • Drugs first heavily came about in the time of the hippies, which was probably their escape from all the war they were put through by our government, who wouldn't want to escape the reality of countries trying to destroy one an other.

  • Perhaps more important than physical beauty is internal beauty. I'm not talking about actual innards, like internal organs.

Many more at The Eiffel Ninety-Four.

The champion

I won!

Not really. But I did come in more than a minute faster than I planned, with a monstrous kick at the end. So, yay for me. Now it's time to forget about running, get drunk and then give in to all those viruses that have been chasing me for two months. Bring it on, bitches.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Good eye

Max Blumenthal might have ID'd one of the two guys who killed judge Lefkow's family.

Sure looks like a match to me.

On The Issue of Race

So, tomorrow's my big 5K race. Forecast: low 40s and clear. I managed to go 6 weeks without catching any of the various colds all my coworkers brought in to share. Instead, I've alternated days where I feel like I'm coming down with something with days where I feel like I'm getting over something - all the while maintaining a persistent cough.

But, by 9:30am tomorrow, I'll be done. And if all goes well, I'll hit the time I want, and I'll have accomplished something I haven't done since I was 16: finished a 5K race. If not, I'll live with the crippling shame... Either way, the Cary Rotary Club gets my $18, and I get a t-shirt.

Bad HREF ! Bad !

Whatever you do, don't link to this column by Bill O'Reilly.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Three two-fers in 3 hours: two in a row from Gillian Welch, two in a row from Spoon and two in a row from The Cars.

Sounds improbable to me.

Urgent Update!
After lunch, another Spoon two-fer, followed by an REM song then another from Spoon. Something's up with the brain in my little white buddy.


Finger length predicts physically aggressive personalities, study shows.


Bands I wished iTunes had, or had more of...

Black Sabbath (pre 1980)
King Crimson
Gillian Welch

I've gone looking for stuff by these bands in the past few weeks, and have come back empty-handed. Don't make me buy physical media!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Nikon D100, 75-250mm

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Eight Sigma

Off to an all-day Six Sigma training session. I hear they're checking for sharp objects and deadly poisons at the door to the conference room, so we won't be able to kill ourselves to escape the sheer boredom.

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.