Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pictures My 5-Year Old Took

Today I let my daughter assume control of the camera (well, one of them). It's kinda cool the things kids find interesting enough to snap (and I'm way too beat to do any of my own stuff right now!). As always, click to enlarge.

Only a kid would take a picture of a clear sky...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tagged Out

I've been tagged by my buddy Glenn, which means once again I'm going to inflict readers with personal information they probably could live without. The rules of this meme go something like this:
  1. 1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
  2. 2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
  3. 3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
  4. 4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Rules 1 and 2 are no problem; I don't really mind being tagged. I'm afraid I'll have to pass on rules 3 and 4, though. (You guessed it! I don't have 7 friends. This is my secret shame!)

Anyway, without further ado, 7 random things about me:
  1. I was expelled in my first week of high school for setting off a stink bomb in a stairwell (my parents were, shall we say, somewhat less than pleased). The kicker is that I was completely innocent of the charge. I remember it like it was yesterday... I'm sitting in homeroom at the beginning of the second day, when my teacher comes in, looks at me, and tells me they want to see me down in the office. As I'm getting up to go, he calls out, "you better take your books and stuff with you." I walk down to the office trying to figure out what the fuck I could have done to warrant this. Damn, it was only the second day! Turns out that some little shit (probably the guy who actually did it) told the principal that he'd seen me near the stairwell when the stink bomb went off. I was given no chance to defend myself and was sent home for a week. (This is how good kids turn bad, my friends, and don't ever fucking kid yourselves.) I would eventually get my revenge. In my second year I managed to steal the "detention book," releasing dozens of students from untold hours of boredom and drudgery. I got back at the rat, too, but that's a story unto itself...
  2. As anyone who comes here regularly has already figured out, I'm an atheist and an existentialist. This means, of course, that I have no sense of right and wrong and I would just as soon kill a motherfucker as shake his hand. And I eat babies.
  3. Shameless self-promotion (1): I made the Dean's List every year I was in university, and was awarded a full scholarship to do my Master's Degree. I'm an asshole, but a well-educated one.
  4. Shameless self-promotion (2): As a first-year university student I got an "A" in a class on Aristotle's Metaphysics (a seminar class populated mostly by grad students). I've translated (from Greek) large chunks of Homer's Odyssey and several plays by Euripides (among other things).
  5. Shameless self-promotion (3): I'm a pretty good drummer. See:
  6. Having said the above, I'm actually a pretty modest person if you meet me! I'm a pretty good guy to have a beer with, too!
  7. When I was 14 I broke my collar bone in a bicycle accident. It's the only bone I've ever broken, although I took a few stiches in the head a few years ago falling down some stairs (it was my birthday...), and I've sprained both ankles (motorcycle accident/frisbee catch at the beach), among other things. I'm starting to get a bit... wobbly...

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Crapulence"

The theme for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge this week is "crapulence" (sickness caused by excessive eating/drinking--not what you thought it meant, is it?).

I tend to lose my head when I drink too much...

So I usually just lie down and sleep it off...

Yeah, yeah, pretty lame, I know... (on the off chance that anyone is curious about these pics, there's more info here and here).


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The other day I found myself (quite unintentionally, I assure you) listening to "Stairway to Heaven," rock's greatest, most-played, most beloved, most requested, blah blah blah, etc. song of all-time. Like most people (I assume), there were a few years in my life (over the hills and far away) when the opening strains of this song would send chills of pleasure coursing through my very being, followed shortly thereafter by an almost Pavlovian impulse to strike up my Bic lighter and hold it high above my head as I sang along with the tune.

These days I usually just change the station because, really, I don't need to "listen" to "Stairway to Heaven." I could easily call it up from the memory banks if I had to-- every note, every word, complete. Needless to say, I don't often feel the urge. I guess habituation, de-sensitization, etc. are a kind of curse, because the song hasn't changed at all since the first time I heard it. No, the only thing that's changed is me.

Anyway, enough of this philosophical cud-chewing!

There's a website that has 101 different versions of "Stairway to Heaven."

There's the "backwards" version, complete with lyrics:

There's the "Beatles" version:

There are versions done in the style of famous composers. Here's Glenn Miller's "version":

"Miller" Stairway

What if it had been performed by The Doors?

"Doors" Stairway

Here's a version performed by Frank Zappa:

Frank Zappa-Stairway to Heaven

"Stairway to Heaven" is the biggest selling sheet music in the history of rock, is still played thousands of times every year on FM stations all over the world, and is consistently voted the "greatest song of all-time."

How long can this go on? Maybe we should ask this kid...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Random Black & Whites

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A Small Pleasure

My little girl is at the age (5) where she frequently wants a chance to do things by herself, without mommy or daddy's help. Lately she seems to have a lot of fun giving herself a shower. Of course, she's got toys and stuff that she plays with in the bath/shower, but her big thing now is singing. She loves belting out tunes in the shower! I've never been a shower singer myself, but I get a big kick out of listening to her singing the songs she's learned at kindergarten or theme songs to her favorite cartoons. It makes me happy that she's so obviously happy while taking her shower.

And then last night she absolutely floored me. As I was hovering outside the bathroom listening in on her "performance," she started singing "whoooo are you? who who? who who?" over and over. It was "Who Are You?" by The Who! (Clearly she's been listening in while CSI was on the tube.) I was so overcome with joy that I burst into the bathroom and started singing along with her, which seemed to please her immensely. We frightened the dog with our racket and my wife thought we'd lost our minds.

My little girl's gonna be a rocker!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Guilty Pleasure

It barely has a right to exist post-Nirvana, let alone sound so fucking good, so fucking right, but the new Whitesnake album, Good to Be Bad, has wedged itself directly into the pleasure center of my brain and is showing no signs of releasing me from its thrall. It's a bit embarrassing, really. I didn't know that bands were still allowed to play stuff like this, never mind record and release it. If I think about it hard enough, though, if I look beyond the big hair and the (now) cringe-inducing clothes, hazy memories begin to seep through to my consciousness and one simple fact blazes laser-like into my mind: I had a damn good fucking time in the eighties... A real damn good fucking time.

Whitesnake-Best Years

Was it good for you?

This Past Saturday Evening

Too busy, too tired, too brain-dead... nothing but pics. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Two Rocks

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Ain't Wastin' Time No More

I'm sitting here, almost paralyzed by the Allman Brothers Band's "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." Like most of the music I love I have about a billion versions of this and other ABB tunes. I'm not even sure which version I'm listening to right now. Heh, OK, it's the Fillmore album. Here comes "Whipping Post."

I'd like to say this: if you don't know the Allman Brothers, then you don't know shit about American rock n' roll. Seriously, if you don't know these guys then you're not qualified to express an opinion on, well fuck, not just American rock, but ROCK.

When I listen to recordings of the band with Duane, I can't help but think what could have been ( a real "bridge" between jazz and rock--check out "Whipping Post" on the Fillmore album). The Allman Brothers Band embody all that's fucking exciting about American music. The Allman Brothers are American music, in the purest sense.

I ain't wastin' time no more...

Allman Brothers-Ain't Wastin' Time No More

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pictures You Take When the Other Guy Doesn't Come Up with a Theme

This week the theme for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge is... well, you can read the title...

Here are some shots from my hard drive (never published before!):

A couple of parrots. At least I think they're parrots...)

A bust of some old lady. I don't know what she was holding...)

My daughter at the beach.

My daughter sleeping (tonight).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Drivers Take Note

This just in: later this month police officers all over Iraq will begin strictly enforcing the country's seat belt laws...

Running Water

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Denki Groove

With very few exceptions, I absolutely detest J-Pop (but, to be fair, I can't stand most "pop music" from anywhere else either).

I like this new Denki Groove tune, though. You can decide for yourself whether you like the music, and Meta no Tame can explain (much better than I ever could) why the video is, like, way cool.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


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Le Saberage

Just the other day I was wondering to myself, "how do I open a bottle of champagne with a sword?"

Now I know.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

24? Oh, you mean a "two-four"?[*]

I've mentioned here before that I don't get a chance to watch much TV these days. This week, however, I've been watching repeats of 24 (season 4) on Fox Japan. Now, I have a computer and all that, so I've been aware of this show from it's first season, and I've even read posts about it on a few different blogs. I get the impression that certain segments of the American right are particularly fond of 24, but for the life of me I can't figure out why...

It seems to me (after watching a handful of episodes this week) that 24 portrays the USA and the American people generally as the stupidest, most incompetent, greediest, back-stabbing-est lot of retards in world history. (Look, I don't write the fucking show, so don't go getting all pissy with me, OK? I actually have a much kinder view of Americans than the writers of 24 seem to.) "Oh yeah", some of you are no doubt thinking, "Americans look bad because of all the torture scenes, this Kyklops guy is some kinda lily-livered leftie." Well, actually, no. In fact, in context the torture scenes are the one aspect of the show that might be seen as relatively flattering to Americans (I think I've seen 4 or 5 people tortured so far this week, and two of them were actually bad guys--that's better than baseball!).

No, I'm not talking about all the maiming and torturing. I'm talking about how the show portrays every level of the American government as incompetent and corrupt, and (seemingly) the vast majority of American citizens as traitorous scumbags who'd sell any old Islamofascist a nuke for a pack of smokes and a few beers. Don't know what I'm talking about? Fuck, a blind man could see it.

Take the episodes of season 4 I've been watching this week. There's this evil mastermind Islamofacist (at least he seems to be an Islamofascist), Marwan , who in the few hours I've been watching has been able to evade every imaginable level of American security and 1) cause a bunch of nuclear reactors to go into meltdown mode, 2) shoot down Airforce One with an American fighter plane, 3) snatch the "football," and 4) steal a nuclear warhead and launch a missile attack.

What, I ask, are we to infer from this? That this Marwan guy really is a mastermind? Give me a fucking break...

And then there's all the help Marwan seems to be getting from "actual" Americans. From people inside CTU, inside government, ex-military personnel, spies, and beer-drinking good old boys, right down to your average thug on the street--they're all on Marwan's fucking payroll!

I ask again, what are we to infer from this? That Marwan is rich and the Americans on his payroll are simply following the dictates of a free market? Give me a fucking break...

I love this show, and I love that it's on Fox, the same network that gave us The Simpsons and X-Files. 24 is quite possibly the most subversive show in TV history...

[*] Where I come from a "two-four" is a case of 24 bottles of beer.


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Monday, April 14, 2008

Blue Sky

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There was another action-packed Sunday jam at The Bar last night. This included, of course, the usual noodling by me and the usual suspects. Also on hand were some cool Japanese cats who were seriously into "oldies" rock 'n' roll. I'm talkin' Del Shannon, The Diamonds, stuff like that. It was a lot of fun (and educational!) backing these guys up. One of them, Takahiro, has a bar here in Miyazaki called Holly's. I'll be over for a drink one of these nights, Takahiro!

Special guests last night were a local band called Mine. I don't want to pigeon-hole them style-wise, because I've only heard the three tunes they played last night. Clearly, though, Mine is a rock band, with a sound that ranges (sometimes in the same song!) between punk, emo, and metal (with some proggy flourishes). They're good and they're loud! Good job, boys!

Sorry for the crappy cell phone pic (again this week!). Oh yeah, Mine sounds something like this:

Mine-Things We Need

Vending Machines, No. 31

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

This Week in Tunes

In an act of almost criminal negligence I have, for a good many years, ignored the music of Gary Moore (because, of all things, I had the idea that he was an over-bearing guitarist of the Yngwie Malmsteen ilk). I want to right this injustice here and now. I'm listening to Moore's After Hours album, and it's one of the best blues-rock albums I've ever heard. Damn, I don't know how I could have liked Roy Buchanan all these years and ignored Gary Moore.

Speaking of guitarists, Vernon Reid (Living Color) and Free Form Funk Freqs have a great, funky, jazzy, free-jam album called Urban Mythology, Vol. 1 that's well worth checking out. This is good stuff, folks!

If you've ever wondered what "Christian punk" might sound like, check out mewithoutyou. It's actually a bit more like post-punk, and I'll be damned if I can hear anything "Christian" in their tunes, but they fuckin' rock!

The somewhat depressingly-named Dead Child have a great new album, Attack, that's a very fine paean to TNWOBHM.

[Fuck, this Gary Moore album is smokin'!]

Lately I've been diggin' the garage-ishness (-yness?) of The Fleshtones, especially their 1982 release, Roman Gods. Their newer stuff is good, too.

The best album I've heard in the past couple of weeks is by a band called Earth, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull. I guess this would be called post-rock, but it has clear roots in drone/metal, and I consider it an ambient album. I don't generally like ambient music, but this is (very) slow, guitar-based, almost soundtrack-like music. I first heard it while extremely hungover (I'd recommend that you do, too). The next time was while driving to work (also good!). I'm not generally into referring to any rock stuff as "ground-breaking," but this is as monumental a rock album as I've heard in many, many years. Without dope. Not for everyone...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Ostentation"

This week the theme for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge is "ostentation" ("pretentious display meant to impress others; boastful showiness").

Here's how it went down, folks:

No doubt somebody will be pissed off by this, but I am Kyklops and I fear no man! Besides, can you prove it didn't happen?

Fountain's Edge

Another pic... Click to enlarge.


Very busy this week with the beginning of the new school year, so nuthin' but pics for now. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Through the Green Fuse Driven (1)

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Water, Leaves

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Sunday nights are "jam night" at The Bar, Miyazaki's default ex-pat hangout. There are a lot of very good musicians in Miyazaki, and this past Sunday three of them dropped by The Bar to lay some cool music on us.

Freaks are a three-piece band with a somewhat unusual line-up: drums, sax, and didgeridoo. I was mildly surprised at the heavy "bottom" the didgeridoo gave to Freaks' jammy style of jazz-funk. Good job, boys!

Sorry for the crappy cell phone pic!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"One World, One Dream"

"One World, One Dream" is the official slogan of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. What a joke.
· Please be aware that the Olympic Games will be held in a country where there are no elections, no freedom of religion, no independent courts, no independent trade unions; where demonstrations and strikes are prohibited; where torture and discrimination are supported by a sophisticated system of secret police; where the government encourages the violation of human rights and dignity, and is not willing to undertake any of its international obligations.

· Please consider whether the Olympic Games should coexist with religious persecution[,] labor camps, modern slavery, identity discrimination, secret police and crimes against humanity.

No thanks, China.

Beach Birds

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Vending Machines, No. 30

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