Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Self Portrait

Land of the Freak

It ain't gonna happen, but here's where I'd like to be when the clock strikes twelve...



Probably better than where you'll be too...

Massive Fail

It's not nice to make fun during a time of war, but I couldn't ignore this:


I'm getting that atheistic, swollen-headed feeling...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Electric Arguments

The other day I was perusing the usual year-end lists of best albums, hoping to dredge up something half-decent that I hadn't already heard, and I came across an album called Electric Arguments by The Fireman. I was a bit surprised to find out that "The Fireman" is actually a pseudonym for a collaboration between Paul McCartney and some chap named Youth, and that they've been up to this for a few years. (Hey, I'm an old fart and I can't be expected to keep up with everything, especially when hockey's in season.) The Fireman, so it seems, has made a couple of electronic/ambient albums.

I was curious about The Fireman, so I ahh... acquired the latest album and gave it a listen. The first song, "Nothing too Much Just out of Sight" sounded like a classic rocker from The White Album. The second track evoked an acoustic/jazzy McCartney-esque sound which also wouldn't sound out of place on White. They're both good tracks.

The real pleasure begins, though, with "Sing the Changes," and continues through the rest of the album. Electric Arguments may at times sound like McCartney trying to sound like U2 and other modern British music staples. I would respectfully suggest, however, that if that's the way you hear it, you've got things a bit backwards. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely fucking nothing, un-McCartney about this album. It's not particularly flashy or in-your-face, but it makes clear who's copying whom.

I've thought for years that Paul McCartney sucked. I don't think that anymore.

This album comes with Kyklops' highest recommendation.

Monkey Bars







Friday, December 26, 2008

Art for Art's Sake

A few years back, in a discussion thread on a site that I can't remember, someone was discussing an art show in which one of the pieces was a bathroom urinal. and was wondering whether a urinal could really be considered a work of "art." I've never been much interested in art "theory" myself, so most of the discussion was either too boring or too complicated (same thing really, I guess) for me to bother with. Being a helpful sort of guy by nature, though, I eventually piped in with the suggestion that, while it's quite possible for a urinal to be a work of art, as soon as someone takes a piss in it it's just a urinal.

Related to the above (in fact, damn near the same thing), I recall a heated conversation I once had with a good friend who was very interested in the latest fashion trends, and would often argue that fashion was a form of art. Probably the only thing I find more annoying than a discussion on art theory is a discussion about fashion. Or so I thought up until that point. This was a discussion about art theory and fashion. Anyway, my friend, growing somewhat exasperated with me (unfashionable, non-artistic rube that I am), finally asked me if I thought it were possible for a coat made out of meat to be a work of art. (Really, it makes me wonder sometimes. Urinals, coats made out of meat--can these people not think of better examples to make their points? I can imagine one of these art theory/fashion-world types working in an appliance store and, in a spiel on the efficiency of gas stoves, managing to drop Hitler's name.) "A coat made out of meat?" I replied. "Sure, that could be art. Until someone put it on."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hey Ya!

This is very, very well done. Brilliant, in fact. I dare you not to crack a smile.



[Via: Daimnation!]

All Is Well

Hope all is well with all of you. Merry Christmas.





Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rockin' in the Free World

I suppose I should post this before our guitar player comes over here and punches me out or something. Here's another clip from our Weather King gig a while back. We're doing another Neil Young tune. Kind of Christmas-y, I guess (if you're a cynical bastard like me, that is).

Patterns

Been busy with stuff lately, so I'm sorry for the silent treatment. Still got nothing to say for myself (!), but here's some stuff that I saw while standing out on the balcony having a smoke the other day...





Friday, December 19, 2008

Gravity Well

Is there a term to describe the feeling you get when, just as you're sitting down, you realize (too late) that you forgot to put the toilet seat down?

Not that it's ever happened to me or anything. Just wonderin'...

What the...?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

By the Sea

I guess it's been a while since I've posted any "water" pics, so...



If You Don't Like Hank Williams...

I always get a bit homesick this time of year. (Yeah, that's right, you don't have to be a Christian to miss Christmas--home, family, friends, turkey, all that stuff, it's not the private property of "the chosen," you know. Shame on anyone stupid enough to think it is.)

Anyway, the old saying goes "you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy." I grew up listening to my parents' country and western albums. The first album I was ever given, in fact, was by Tex Ritter, a cowboy legend if there ever was one. (For contrast, the first album I ever bought with my own money--given to me by my parents, of course--was The Beatles' Abbey Road.)

It's no secret that I love rock 'n' roll, and regular readers know that my tastes can wander into relatively extreme forms of rock (death metal, etc.). But--and I make no claim to any kind of special insight in this regard--I've always been very aware of the beginnings of any music genre that I happen to like. In fact, maybe being a stereotypical "existentialist," I don't particularly like lumping music into separate categories, preferring instead to appreciate what I perceive to be a certain elasticity between "genres" (it is, though, linguistically useful to be able to say "it sounds like...").

Everybody these days knows (or at least claims they do) about the influence of earlier black music forms (jazz, blues, etc.) on rock 'n' roll. In fact, it's generally recognized that black guys like Chuck Berry and Little Richard invented the form. No fucking shit. Anyone who doesn't know this is a Britney fan or some other form of life (some "stereotyping" is allowed in a non-perfect existentialist world--or something like that).

What is generally less recognized (to my mind, at least) is the influence those cowboy hat-wearing white dudes had in the early days of rock. In fact, why doesn't anyone (except perhaps in musicology journals that nobody who actually listens to music reads) ever give any credit to guys yodeling away on Swiss (or wherever) mountains?

So, we've gone through my whine about Christmas homesickness, to country music, to the roots of rock, to Swiss (or wherever) yodelers. What the fuck am I talking about?

Let's work backwards. I recently (very happily, I might add) discovered the music of Hank Williams III:

[NOTE: You've gotta watch each video to the end. Please.]



You know, being a white guy with a graduate degree in Classics (you had to click to find out, admit it!), people have sometimes found it somewhat odd that the phrase "yippy-yi-yay!" seems to get my blood a-boilin' (the sound of bagpipes has the same effect, go figure). It might be useful here to point out that that phrase is (very) categorically different from, say, "eeeh-haaah!" Just sayin...

Here's Hank III again, stripped of anything "rock":



And here's the one and only Hank Williams. I love all of this stuff. I'm sorry if you don't. Listen to the end for a very beautiful bonus duet.



And so you see, folks, watching YouTube clips makes one a bit homesick and rambly in his speech. It doesn't make him stupid, though. Unless you feel like fighting about it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Travel Tips

Context is everything, so there's nothing served by getting yourself all worked up about not understanding a foreign language. I mean, really, what the hell do you think the waitress who's just come up to your table is saying? Jeesh.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Line of the Day

I bow in humble awe:
Before criticising anyone in Iraq, you should first walk a mile in his shoes, so you can throw them at GW Bush.
The insurgency is in its last throws.
Indeed.



No matter how many times I watch that I can still hardly believe my eyes.

[UPDATE: Fun and games for the whole family! Tip o' the hat to ArtSparker!]

Come Together

Here's another clip from The Dead Flowers' triumphant (ahem) Weather King gig. The song is "Come Together" by The Beatles. Bonus for anyone who listens through to the end of the clip: we completely botch the ending.



What did I tell you?

Driving at Night

Bleh, haven't felt much like blogging lately. Here are a few cell phone pics I took while driving the other night.








Hey, I never said they were any good...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blue Impulse (2)

Click to enlarge.





Does anyone else detect something a little creepy about this pic? (Click for the larger image.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nyutabaru Airshow

As some of you may have guessed from recent posts, I recently attended an airshow. The JASDF (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) has an air base (Nyutabaru) just outside of Saito, and every year they host an air show. [Sorry, I couldn't find any direct, "primary" links to the base and/or the air show in either English or Japanese.] It's basically an "open house" sort of day at the base, and is good, clean fun for the whole family--hunks of metal and wire screaming through the air faster than the speed of sound, displays of weapons useful for killing, maiming, and blowing things up, a festive atmosphere, food and drink, and all manner of wholesome entertainment.

When video games just aren't enough, this is about as close as most of us (or at least most of us reading this) will ever get to jumping into the cockpit of a weapon of mass destruction, launching it through the sky at breakneck speeds, and raining death and terror on everything in our path, blasting the shit out of whatever we choose, free as the wind... [Sorry, I was starting to drool a bit...]


And seriously, I was drooling at the chance to get some really snazzy photos of fighter jets hurtling through the air and post them here on this ever-so-humble blog of mine. It was not to be, however. After about five minutes of shooting two things became painfully clear to me. In the first place, as high-tech and expensive as my camera is, it's not pro gear. The planes were too fast and too far away. Zoom in and get nothing but blue sky; zoom out and get something resembling a bird off in the distance. And secondly, I came to the harsh realization that it probably wouldn't matter what kind of gear I was using; this was a job a bit beyond my photographic abilities.

Typical shots looked something like this:


Or this:


Bloody depressing. I had to console myself with a few somewhat serviceable shots of very cool, fast, exciting jet fighters, er, parked on the ground...

The F-2 fighter--very cool!

... or not moving very quickly.


That's a nice view of Mt. Kirishima, though, don't you think?

Actually, I did manage to get a few half-decent (i.e. salvageable) shots of the Blue Impulse aerobatic demonstration team in action. I've already posted a few of them here, and I'll post a few more later.

But there's more to an air show than fighter jets, right? There were all kinds of flying machines at Nyutabaru! There were cargo/personnel carriers:


Helicopters:


And even an old-style bi-plane:


And lets not forget all the impressive weaponry that was on display. This is a machine gun that's normally attached to an airplane. I think someone said it fires about a trillion rounds per second...


And what would a fighter plane be without missiles...


... and bombs?


As far as these things go, I suppose the Nyutabaru Airshow is pretty small scale. That doesn't make it any less interesting and entertaining, though. Joking aside, I quite enjoy stuff like this. And even if you personally don't have a bloodthirsty, war-mongering demon lurking somewhere in the depths of your mind, it's always a good idea to learn about "the other half" that's hell-bent on your destruction, right? Yes, there's something for everyone at an event like this!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Aggressor

I certainly don't claim to be any sort of expert, but I think it's probably safe to say that, in the world of military fashion, this...


... is a lot more stylin' than any of this:

Monday, December 08, 2008