Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vending Machines, No. 65

With a Little Help from My Friends

Again from Woodstock, a Beatles cover whose arrangement positively beggars the original (which really wasn't bad). Joe Cocker...


When I was a kid we called them "Joe Cocker" shirts...

ADDED: Great Randy Newman tune done as only Joe could do it. (I guess you've figured I like Joe Cocker...): You Can Leave Your Hat On...

Yes, Yes, YES!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kim Jong Il: Capitalist Genius

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has had a busy week, what with detonating a nuclear bomb, launching a bunch of ballistic missiles into the sea, scrapping the armistice, declaring war on South Korea and the rest of the world (are links really necessary?), and whatever regular, daily shenanigans they're usually busy at. And, of course, this has all been planned and carried out by the Dear Leader himself.

The world has been on edge all week trying to figure out what those crazy bastards are up to this time. Meanwhile, I have been analyzing the available data, and only now feel confident about divulging the results. What you are about to read may shock you, may horrify you, may make you laugh so hard you cry... Whatever. It's none of my business, really.

Why North Korea acts the way it does and what Kim Jong Il really wants:

All the Dear Leader wants, dear reader, is for you to buy one of these snappy suits [PDF file--R.] he's designed and has for sale:

In fact, I have it on good authority that for every 100 suits sold (excluding sales in South Korea and Japan) the Dear Leader will cancel one scheduled nuclear test.

Yet another way in which capitalism shows itself to be a catalyst for world peace. Unless you're a fucking Commie, or something...


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


When in Rome...

Apparently the Governor General of Canada has caused a bit of a stir during a visit to Nunavut in the north of Canada. What did she do? Well, she gutted a seal and ate a piece of its heart.
First she gutted it. Then she had the bleeding heart pulled out of its furry, flabby carcass. Finally, she swallowed a slice of the mammal's oozing organ.
And when it was all over Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean wiped the blood of a freshly slaughtered seal off her crimson-spattered fingertips.
The Governor General made a graphic gesture of solidarity with the country's beleaguered seal hunters on the first day of a week-long Arctic visit Monday.
Hundreds of Inuit at a community festival gathered around as Jean knelt above a pair of carcasses and used a traditional ulu blade to slice the meat off the skin.
After repeated, vigorous slashes through the flesh the Queen's representative turned to the woman beside her and asked enthusiastically: "Could I try the heart?"
Within seconds Jean was holding a dripping chunk of seal-ticker, which she tucked into her mouth, swallowed whole, and turned to her daughter to say it tasted good.
Jean grabbed a tissue to wipe her blood-soaked fingers, and explained her gesture. She expressed dismay that anyone would characterize the Inuit's eons-old, traditional hunting practices as inhumane.
Jean gestured to the hundreds of people in a packed arena and noted that they would all be fed by the meat laid out on a tarp on the floor.
[Emphasis mine.]
Now, I won't even attempt to say that I would have done the same thing in a similar situation, because I honestly don't know if I could have. But I also won't deny that Ms. Jean earned my admiration when I read that story. Since coming to Japan I've managed to keep (I think!) a pretty calm exterior when offered raw fish, raw chicken, raw deer and, most recently, raw pig vagina. (Sashimi has become a regular part of my diet. Honestly, though, I prefer my meat cooked.) Ms. Jean, however, makes me look like a provincial hick by comparison!

The Governor General of Canada, in my opinion, has honored (sorry, honoured!) her position by showing herself to be the perfect guest. This is only made more poignant by the fact that her hosts were fellow countrymen (and I encourage readers to look at the above-linked story in its entirety to get a fuller picture).

Of course, while I was reading that story I knew it would only be a short time before the Europeans or PETA or some combination thereof began howling. And sure enough:
Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean snacking on a slain seal's raw heart has sparked criticism from the European Union and animal rights groups.
Barbara Slee, an anti-seal hunt campaigner at the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Brussels, said she was disgusted by Jean's actions.
"The fact that the Governor General in public is slashing and eating a seal, I don't think that really helps the cause, and I'm convinced that this will not change the mind of European citizens and politicians," Slee told The Associated Press.
Christ, what a silly, self-important idiot this woman sounds like. She's "disgusted"? Let's be clear about this: she's disgusted by Inuit eating habits and culture and the fact that they, with the support of their government, don't feel like listening to a bunch of asshole Europeans tell them how to live. The Inuit might well feel somewhat disgusted at Europeans' annoying habit of killing each other by the millions every few generations, but they're probably much to polite to say anything about it out loud. We might forgive them if they snicker when nobody's watching...
"It amazes us that a Canadian official would indulge in such bloodlust," Dan Mathews, senior vice-president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the Toronto Star.
"It sounds like she's trying to give Canadians an even more Neanderthal image around the world than they already have."
The CBC stops at nothing to bring its readers/viewers entertaining quotes! A guy from PETA calling Canadians "neanderthals"? Hee hee! When I was a kid and my sisters hit me, I used to say, "what are you trying to do, tickle me?" What a lightweight. Is he trying to make PETA look more ridiculous than it it already does?

What this amounts to is a sort of cultural snobbery. The Europeans can enjoy their veal (or whatever) so long as they don't personally have to kill the calf (PETA members at least can fall back to the more consistent position of "meat is murder"--that doesn't make them any less annoying, though). Anyone who eats meat, however, and tries to say the hunting traditions of the Inuit are "barbaric" or "savage" is a hypocrite.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Random Cell Pics

Shadows and light on a sidewalk.

Sunset from a parking lot.

The camera/phone knocked out of my hand just as I'm snapping a pic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stupid of the Week

Much worse than "stupid," really, but I'm trying to cut down on my swearing...

From The NY Times: Well - Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside:
When a loved one is in the hospital, you naturally want to be at the bedside. But what if the staff won’t allow it?

That’s what Janice Langbehn, a social worker in Lacey, Wash., says she experienced when her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, collapsed with an aneurysm during a Florida vacation and was taken to a Miami trauma center. She died there, at age 39, as Ms. Langbehn tried in vain to persuade hospital officials to let her visit, along with the couple’s adopted children.
I told you it was worse than stupid...

[VIA: Ed at ginandtacos, who makes the following point:
If I’m in a room with Michelle Malkin and she collapses from a heart attack, I’m going to call an ambulance. If James Dobson’s wife is dying, I’m not going to seek out a bureaucratic way to keep him out of her hospital room. These actions don’t indicate friendship or kindness. It’s merely the bare minimum recognition of what separates humans from hyenas.
Hyenas indeed.]

Escape Velocity

Cell phone pic.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Diet Coke

160 ml. can of Coke.

Sometimes a little common sense is enough...

Kreativ Kyklops

Blogging friend Absolute Vanilla, in a display of either perverse humor or the early signs of oncoming dementia (Happy Birthday, sweetie!), has given me one of those blog award thingies:

[Is there some rule that says these things have to be designed with colors I would never be caught dead wearing? Just kidding!]

I generally do my best to avoid these meme things, but since it's AV's birthday, and since she's one of only a handful of people that regularly drop by and leave a comment, and in the interests of fostering world peace, saving the rain forests, feeding the poor, being the best that I can be, and all that other stuff, I figured I could play along this one time.

According to the rules I guess I'm supposed to list "seven things that I love." In an attempt to make it interesting for you, the reader, I'm going to leave out the obvious: my wife, daughter, mother, family, etc. So, OK, seven things I love, in no particular order:

1. I love the perverse genius of this, surely the greatest photoshop of all time (the "DK" in the background is a nice touch):

2. I love this album, the best Stones album ever:

3. I love the coolest game on earth, and the childhood memory this picture evokes:

4. I love The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. (I've been an SF geek since childhood).

5. I love beer.

6. I love pina coladas and making... doh! Actually, I love William Shatner. Seriously, I can't think of a funnier, more honest, more entertaining actor on TV. And don't even get me started on James Kirk. That guy had the best job in the history of jobs...

7. Well, OK, I love my wife, my daughter, my mother, my sisters, the rest of my family, and all you zombies, too!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Mercury Blues

Susan of Artspark Theatre, commenting on the previous post, reminded me of another great tune:

David Lindley-Mercury Blues
Alt. Link

I don't know if it's middle age/impending old age, playing drums again after so many years, or what, but I feel like listening to and talking about music these days. And yeah, I'm an old fart, so to me "talking about music" generally means talking about rock 'n' roll...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ten Years After

From Woodstock, one of the greatest on-stage performances in rock 'n' roll history, Ten Years After doing "I'm Goin' Home." An exclamation point at the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.

I saw these guys in Moncton, New Brunswick [!] on a Labour Day back in, I think, 1975. I was 17 and had hitch-hiked up from Halifax where, the day before, I'd seen Nazareth play. Nazareth was OK, but the Ten Years After concert remains in my brain to this day as one of the best rock shows I've ever seen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kyklops Sans-Serif

So I'm reading a Wall Street Journal article about the much-maligned Comic Sans typeface and something strikes me as odd. I can't quite put my finger on it at first, but then I realize: Comic Sans looks just like my own printing--as opposed to cursive, style! (Well, when I'm trying to print "nicely," anyway.) Look:

In fact, it probably looks a lot like your own "nice" printing style. (Or at least it did until you got out of elementary school...)

Anyway, I don't really understand what all the fuss is about. I have yet to see a novel or newspaper or magazine or any other "serious" literature published in Comic Sans. In fact, as a guy who needs to wear glasses when he's reading, I'd say that Comic Sans is one of the most readable typefaces I've come across. Big and blocky, with none of that annoying curly stuff that makes most text so blurry to my aging eyes--what's not to like? And if I think back to a time before I needed glasses, I imagine all those monotonous pages of Latin I had to translate back in university. If there is a more dull-looking language on the printed page than Latin, I don't know what it is. How much more fun reading Virgil would have been if the text had been in Comic Sans!


Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram;
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem,
inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum,
Albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae.
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso,
quidve dolens, regina deum tot volvere casus
insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores
impulerit. Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?
Pretty lame, eh? Now check this out:
Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram;
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem,
inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum,
Albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae.
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso,
quidve dolens, regina deum tot volvere casus
insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores
impulerit. Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?
Damn, the words almost leap off the page (er, screen)! It almost translates itself!

And they called me a Philistine...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Tree

A Bench

Vending Machines, No. 62

Required Reading

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity:
The fact that the activity and movements of a stupid creature are absolutely erratic and irrational not only makes defense problematic but it also makes any counter-attack extremely difficult - like trying to shoot at an object which is capable of the most improbable and unimaginable movements. This is what both Dickens and Schiller had in mind when the former stated that "with stupidity and sound digestion man may front much" and the latter wrote that "against stupidity the very Gods fight in vain."
You'll likely get a kick out of this, even if you're stupid...

[VIA: Cynical-C]

Friday, May 08, 2009

Dead Queen

Feeling a bit brain-dead tonight, so maybe nothing but tunes. And really, with musical tastes like mine, can that be such a bad thing? [/ducks flying beer can]

I mentioned Espers briefly in a post a couple of years ago. My recent brush with hippy-dom ("hippy-ness"? certainly not "hipness"!) got me to thinking about them again. This would be great hippy music!

Imagine... oh, The Velvet Underground meets Fairport Convention, with a smattering of Queen-inspired guitars (or some fucking shit like that). Pretty and haunting at the same time...

Espers-Dead Queen
Alt. Link


Great Graham Parker tune, with no comment from me.
So all of you be damned
We can't have heaven crammed...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

At the Zoo

It's the Golden Week holidays in Japan, so pretty much anyone outside of the retail sector has had the last few days off. Today was Kodomo no hi (Children's Day) so we took our daughter to the zoo. Apparently every other family in Miyazaki had the same idea, so the place was very... busy. Only one more day off before I can go back to work and relax...

A couple of pics:

Road Trip to Hippy Land

This past Friday night after work I threw some socks and underwear into the car and headed up to Mt. Aso in Kumamoto for a weekend of peace, love, and all that other hippy stuff. There was a music festival happening, and our (non-hippy) band had a gig. Yes, we were playing in the the coveted "second band after lunch" slot. (Some bands might see this as being a somewhat lowly spot on the slate of events, but they're probably more interested in exposure than the drinking time that opens up when you finish your set early...).

As an ex-rocker cum existentialist cum university teacher cum aging rocker, I'm not particularly prone to touchy-feely expressions of universal brotherhood, so I felt a bit out of place at this particular gathering. I mean, everyone was nice to us and all that, but damn, these hippies wear different clothes and are all, like, "back to nature" and stuff. And, to be honest, I didn't really like most of the music I heard performed there. (I will say, though, that every band I saw was better at their "thing" than we were at ours.)

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I may come back to this, if only to post a few pics (although I didn't really get very many good ones).

The following tune is a comfort to me...

... although I wonder if I'm the only one who doesn't sense something ironic about it...

Well, OK, here are a couple of pics. Maybe more to come...