Sunday, April 29, 2007

Panorama Fun

I've been having a hell of a lot of fun with Autostitch on my trip to Michigan. Here follows a picture from Pyramid Point. Pyramid point is a bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. You walk up a steep hill and when you reach the crest you are a couple of hundred feet above the lake. It's beautiful there.

Today Mom and I drove down to Grand Rapids to attend my sister's graduation from college. Just south of Traverse City on the way back the sun was setting and I saw an awesome view and I had to try a panorama.
Should be a competitive sport

I jumped off a swing for the first time since about fifth grade. I still have good form and got pretty good distance. I out flew my buddy's eight-year-old stepson.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Today my Dad and I hung out and did a bit of walking. One spot we went to was a place called Grass River Natural Area. It's beautiful and it's about 2 miles from my Dad's front door. Here's a picture I took today in the rain.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Let the politics of fear continue

I hope this Giuliani BS blows up in his face.

Hi, I am in Michigan. I took a self portrait at Good Harbor, a bay on Lake Michigan in Leelanau County. Good Harbor is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The picture is here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Leaving on one of them aeroplanes

Just to let you know that this afternoon I will be leaving for northern Michigan and I will be back on May 4th. I hope to post some pictures and a few other entries while I am up there. Go Tigers.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Best Song Ever (MP3 blogging)

Let's talk about Johnny Cash some more. What always fascinated me about Cash is how he could be embarassingly hokey and frightfully poignant, often in the same song. Sometimes these two states were separated by a line break. The song I am going to provide a link to today is Singin' in Vietnam Blues. How can you not love a song that has these opening lines:

"One mornin' at breakfast I said to my wife
We've been everywhere once and some places twice
As I had another helpin' of country ham
She said we ain't never been to Vietnam."

Yes, he actually rhymed "country ham" with "Vietnam." Who else but Johnny Cash would have the fucking balls to rhyme those two terms? But right alongside one of the hokiest lines in the history of recorded music there are two powerful moments of the kind only Cash could summon. Listen to his voice when he reads the line "She said, 'I'm scared.' I said, 'Me too.'" There couldn't be a simpler line and when he stripped words and music down to their minimum that's when he would shine. Later on a similar moment occurs when Johnny and June are asked to visit wounded troops. Johnny's answer is one word: "Yeah." The whole second to last stanza is full of hope and love and, since that's not enough, he carries it a bit too far in teh last stanza while still being able to waffle on the whole Vietnam war issue. Johnny at his finest.

I present to you Singin' in Vietnam Talking Blues by Johnny Cash.

Radio Deliro

I came across the best internet radio station last weekend while playing around on Itunes. If you get a chance check out Radio Deliro. It's a French station that plays everything except heavy metal. I've heard classical, blues, Beatles, show tunes, French pop music, tin pan alley, jazz (really good jazz) and world music. It's amazing. Seriously, whoever is programming this station is goddamn genius. Give it a shot.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How to be Impressed

I love reading the New York Times Book Review. Every now and then I will come across a review that flat wakes me up. I just finished reading a review by Clive James on two new books about Leni Riefenstahl.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Comic relief

Since that tragedy at Virginia Tech has stunned the whole country I would like to lighten things up by linking to some unintentional humor at my favrorite ultra right wing website. Did you know that this tragedy was directly caused by liberals?
Yup, every person that every asked for sanity in our gun laws. Every person that has wanted to offer every American a chance at health care. Every person that ever wanted to allow women and black Americans to vote. All those people are directly to blame for the massacre at Virginia Tech. I hope you fucking hippies are happy with the world you have created. I knew David Crosby was at the root of everything that is wrong with our great nation.

Monday, April 16, 2007

LDS Lard Ass

At the library a common sight is young Mormon adults that are on their mission. They sit at the internet computers wearing the ubiquitous black name tags pinned to white shirts. Kinder, gentler Reservoir Dogs. Ususally they are healthy young men full of way too much good cheer. Today I saw my first fat one. He stuck out like a fat Mormon missionary.

I love this

No matter how bad the tragedy let's just be sure to not allow any rational discussion of gun control to enter the arena: "A White House spokesman said President Bush was horrified by the rampage and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia. "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said." What a jackass. He wants it both ways. We create a culture of fear and paranoia and then arm ourselves to the teeth. When someone snaps and goes on a killing spree it has nothing to do with the guns or our culture, it's just another "unforseeable tragedy". Yeah, so unforseeable that it happens almost annually. Drives me fucking crazy.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More MP3 Blogging

I probably enjoy this more than I should but I do love posting MP3's on this blog. It's fun. I hope a couple of you listen to these songs. Today I am posting Johnny Cash's version of Long Black Veil. I came across this song on one of two cassette tapes of that I borrowed for life from my grandmother. I still feel a little guilty about that. She let me keep the tapes when I got attached to them. One of the cassettes was a collection of his Sun singles and the other was a greatest hits type of album. I don't remember which one because there have been a buttload of Johnny Cash collections.

Often Johnny Cash attempted to record someone else's song and it just didn't seem to fit. But when he nailed a cover it could sound like the song was his or had been written with him in mind. Songs like I See a Darkness and Rusty Cage on his American Records albums come to mind. In that group you can include this little heard gem from the album "Orange Blossom Special." Check out that beautiful long backing vocal that seems to disappear into the air and near the end when Cash moans "Nobody knows." If you aren't ready it will give you chills. I think that is what I have always liked about Cash: true emotion. Whether it's his own song, a Kris Kristofferson song or a gospel song he attempts to give a pure reading.

I give you Long Black Veil.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Long commutes blow ass

"This analysis presupposes that commuting represents what economists call a rational choice, as opposed to a constrained choice. Postwar zoning laws aggressively separated living space from commercial space, requiring more roads and parking lots—known to planners as Euclidean zoning (after a Supreme Court decision involving Euclid, Ohio), and to civilians as sprawl. Putnam likes to imagine that there is a triangle, its points comprising where you sleep, where you work, and where you shop. In a canonical English village, or in a university town, the sides of that triangle are very short: a five-minute walk from one point to the next. In many American cities, you can spend an hour or two travelling each side. “You live in Pasadena, work in North Hollywood, shop in the Valley,” Putnam said. “Where is your community?” The smaller the triangle, the happier the human, as long as there is social interaction to be had. In that kind of life, you have a small refrigerator, because you can get to the store quickly and often. By this logic, the bigger the refrigerator, the lonelier the soul."
It ain't just an REM song

Did you know that survivalists have an acronym for the coming collapse? It is TEOTWAKI.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes...

I'm sure everyone has seen that Kurt Vonnegut died today. I figured I should be mentioned him because this wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't acknowledge the passing of one of the great writers and thinkers of the last fifty years.

One of the best experiences of my life was sitting in the audience at Spirit Square for about an hour listening to Kurt Vonnegut speak. This happened back in the early 90's before some of you were even born. I remember telling my friends afterwards that I felt I had sat in the presence of a truly wise person for the first time in my life. A remark that probably would have given him fits of laughter since to him man was anything but a wise animal.

I was thrilled by his appearance on The Daily Show last year. I almost cheered when he said that George Bush was not the stupidest person in the White House and that the honor when to the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld. He was witty and funny. Definitely showing his age but he was all there.

I would recommend his collection of essays Fates Worse than Death to anyone that may have trouble getting into his novels. It's the same philosophy, just packaged in a manner that is easier to digest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Peeps! Peeps! Peeps!

OK, this has nothing to do with anything but how can I resist linking to a contest for dioramas with peeps? How could I not link to that? How?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I reckon I'll link to another picture from my wonderful trip to the mountains this last weekend. The first part of our trip we cruised south from Asheville on the Blueridge Parkway. It's an area of the parkway I hadn't been on before so I really was enjoying the views. I took a big ole panaorama shot in the Looking Glass Rock area. It's the biggest panorama I've done yet with Autostitch. This picture is comprised of 23 individual photographs.

On Saturday we drove through Cherokee and went to Mingo Falls. I had snowed the night before so it was nice and nippy out and the light dusting of snow stayed on the ground until well past noon. Mingo Falls could not have been prettier. As we gazed at the fall a strong breeze would rise up now and then and blow snow out of trees and across the front of the falls. It was magical. Of course I took a panoramic shot of the falls.

By the way, the reason we went to these falls is because they were near where we were and they were given a beauty rating of ten by Kevin Adams in his North Carolina waterfall book. I can't say enough good things about Adams' book. I have used it before and the driving and hiking instructions are perfect and he desribes the waterfalls accurately. His book is indispensible when you are touring the North Carolina mountains.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Big Trees are cool

I'm sure you've been wondering why I haven't blogged all weekend. I'll tell you why, I've been up in the mountains. It's too late on a Sunday night to tell you the whole story. For your Monday morning consideration I say that the old growth trees at the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest are awesome. You don't need to go out to California to see big trees when you got poplars with circumferences of over twenty feet in your back yard.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Last Empress

I am in the middle of reading The Last Empress by Anchee Min. I am having a hard time really getting into the book. The writing is just as good, the attention to detail is still there but it has a detatchment that Empress Orchid didn't have. I have a feeling part of the reason is that this book is plowing through a longer time period than Orchid. Orchid was more about the title character than the last empress. Both books have a lot of palace intrigue (which is really fun when done right) but Orchid was really about Orchid, not so much politics. Empress is almost all politics and history. Heck, it's almost like one of those new Star Wars movies. It's different from a new Star Wars movie in that reading it has not caused me to want to gouge my eyes out.

I think I'll finish this book but I'm disappointed because I will nto be able to use this as enthusiastically in book talks as I was hoping. Using this book and its predecessor for book talks was my plan. I guess I still can do that but I like to talk about books I really like.

I'm a little bummed because I really wanted to like this book.

Another disappointment

Another piece of art that I really wanted to enjoy was the new album by the Stooges. I had a real good feeling about the album and I bought it right when it came out. I have to say that I am underwhelmed. I was expecting better riffs, lyrics and energy.

It's not a shitty album, it's just not something that I am going to pull out and play over and over again. I don't want to compare it too their old stuff, that's not fair to any rock and roll band. A few people like Neil Young Tom Waits and Dylan are over fifty and puttting out material that compares well to their old stuff. I wasn't expecting Fun House II but I sure didn't want something that sounded like an Iggy solo album.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Return of the MP3 blog

Because Randy is a genius I now have the internets back in my room so I can now upload songs to my webpage from my hard drive again. What better way to celebrate my new found connectivity by bringing back the ever popular MP3 blog?

Today's artist is the Circle Jerks. I guess you can tell by their name that they are a punk band. I read about them on Wikipedia and they formed in the L.A. area in 1979. Somehow when I was in high school in 1985 I bought their album Wonderful. I can only guess that I heard a song by them on WNMC or I read about them in Rolling Stone. I don't remember. Maybe their name caught my eye at the local record store. I doubt it, I could barely afford to buy music in high school so I must have known something about the album before I bought it.

I do remember playing the hell out of it for a good long time. My two favorite tracks are Making the Bombs and Killing for Jesus. I have included Killing for Jesus today because it just seems more appropriate today with fundamentalist Christians running around in charge and people like these calling Islam an evil religion while a Christian is in the White House waging war. Besides, how could I not include the song that has this doozy of a lyric, "I'm never bored when I'm killlin' for the lord?"

Since they are an L.A. punk band from way back when you might think they would have a sound not too far off from that generic fast punk sound. I always described this album as sounding like decent pop metal band fronted by a punk singer. Is it especially unique? Not really. Is it all that great? Not in retrospect but it was a good album for an 18 year old in 1986.

From what I understand they have reformed and tour some. They actually came to Winston-Salem last year and I missed them. Granville and I almost went. I'm not sure why we didn't. Maybe I had to work. They have a Myspace page with a new song on it that's pretty good. If they came out with a new album I think I'd buy it.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Killing for Jesus by the Circle Jerks.

If, after hearing this song, you have to know more about this band you can read about them on Wikipedia.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Family Nietzsche

What happens when you pair of random Nietzsche quotes and random Family Circus comics? Something exactly like this.