Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Wallace Monument in Scotland
A panorama from that peak that overlooks Hong Kong
Piscina Mirabilis. A giant cistern that stored the drinking water for the Roman city of Misenum in southern Italy on the western shore of the Bay of Naples. This structure played a big role in the book Pompeii by Robert Harris.
The sun setting into a partially frozen Lake Michigan
A girl with magic hands
Monday, June 29, 2009
I used to see this guy play out a lot. It's been a year or two since I've seen him play. I really like his music. I'm lame and should go out more. Check out his new tunes. I think a lot of you that visit here will like these. I think AJP will especially like these.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
While sitting in the teen writers meeting tonight one of the kids got a text message from her friend telling her Michael Jackson had just died. Mitchel, our visiting college student, opened his laptop and confirmed Jackson had been admitted to a hospital, that he wasn't breathing, that he was in a coma and then, finally, dead. That made tonight's prompt for the writing exercise pretty easy. We picked a random word for each person and whatever that person wrote had to be about that word and had to mention Michael Jackson. What the kids wrote went from respectful and touching to downright offensive. I was happy with the results.
Jackson is the biggest celebrity to die since Princess Diana. For the next 48 hours you are going to get to watch the people of the United States lose their collective mind. Sit back and enjoy. It's gonna be a freak show.
I saw today that Google Books is trying some new things. I guess we can embed public domain books into our blogs. I figured I'd try my favorite passage from Huckelberry Finn. This is the section where Huck decides between eternal salvation or helping his friend.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Thanks to the mighty Metafilter I came across a new word website today. It is called Wordnik. According to the website they are "ongoing project devoted to discovering all the words and everything about them." I like this site. Check out the entry for frog. It gives you the word's appearance in public domain documents at Gutenberg site, several definition options, a recorded pronunciation, occurrences of the word in Twitter posts, synonyms and images from Flickr. Pretty impressive.
Tom Hanks and Steven Speilberg are producing a miniseries for HBO about World War II's Pacific Theater. That's pretty exciting. What is also very encouraging is that they are partially adapting one of the best memoirs to come out of the war, With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge.
One of my favorite far right blogs is this mess called The Autonomist. The blog is best described as "if you don't agree with us then you hate America." Today I saw this post and almost had a stroke. I guess what Rocco is saying is that Bush would have used this situation to spew his usual rhetoric about liberty and freedom while really doing nothing to ensure that the people of Iran were moving toward liberty and freedom. I think after completely dropping the ball in Iraq it's probably a good thing that the people of Iran waited to rise up until after Bush was out of office. The kind of help he would have liked to have sent would have possibly resulted in 50,000 dead Iranians.
With Rocco implying that Obama is not putting his face out front and Bill Bennett essentially saying Obama is not doing his job I say we should think back to the hostage incident with the pirates. Some thought Obama wasn't involved in the crisis. By involved they meant what Rocco and Bennett are saying now. They were and are saying that Obama needs to appear on televsion and condemn the acts of the Iranian government. What happened when he stayed behind the scene during the hostage crisis? The face of that crisis became the captain of that ship, not President Obama. I think he is doing that now. Right now the symbol of the uprising in Iran is the people in the streets being murdered by their own government. I can guarantee you that Obama is on top of this situation. Just because he isn't on television telling us how good of a leader he is doesn't mean he isn't leading. A great leader doesn't have to tell us over and over again how hard his job is, he does his job.
Naturally, Talking Points Memo does a great job showing the nonsense of some and the thoughtfulness of others in one of their videos. John McCain's performance is especially embarrassing. I don't know how his head didn't explode since he's the same person that once sang "Bomb Iran." Truly he does care deeply for the Iranian people.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Gallagher will mess you up
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
Gallagher likes to be petted but if you pet a little too long he shows his affection by digging his claws into the back of your hand. He's not trying to be a jerk, that is just the way god made him.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Lobby at Carriage Club
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
This is the front lobby of a retirement community where we go to participate in a monthly book club.
This lobby reminds me of a ski resort. When I went by yesterday there was a lady playing the piano and some other residents and staff were singing along.
The book we discussed was Pompeii by Robert Harris. I was pleasantly surprised by the members' reactions to the book. It was generally very favorable. They gave me the best feedback so far on a book I have suggested for a book club. I really enjoyed the book also and it was fun to discuss with a roomful of people who also loved it. Very rewarding.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
An amazing picture taken in Minneapolis in the 1950s. This was posted by a Flickr user named Superbomba. She posts interesting old snapshots she finds at secondhand stores.
Tom takes us back to World War II. The horror, the horror.
Found this landscape taken from the top of Mam Tor in England while looking for Autostitch photos in England.
I went on a panorama kick this week. This is the coliseum in Rome. Like you needed to be told that.
A nice panorama of Wrigley Field. I love this place and I am dying to go back.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Weird Al just released a new song with an accompanying video. It's called Craig's List and it's done in the style of the Doors. It even has Ray Manzarek playing keyboard on it. Great stuff. Songs like this where he parodies a band's style while addressing an unrelated topic are my favorite.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I wish the Rolling Stones would make a blues album. I love this song Back of my Hand from the album A Bigger Bang. It's the first new song by them that I thought was truly great since 1983's Undercover of the Night. I just love the harmonica in this song. It sounds like it came straight out of 1972.
Back Of My Hand - The Rolling Stones
Friday, June 12, 2009
Paul Krugman has a nice column here on the upcoming round of violence we can expect from the right wing lunatics out there. If you work in or near a federal building somewhere in the midwest you might want to wear a flak jacket to work for the next couple of years.
What I don't understand is when a kid shoots up a school the right in this country immediately blames rock lyrics and violent video games but when a right wing wacko recently murdered a doctor those on the right, that essentially called the doctor a mass murderer, came out saying that you couldn't blame their reckless rhetoric. Well, which is it? You can't have it both ways.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Ever wonder which search engine you would pick if you took a blind test? Now you can find out. This site allows you to do a search and then see a three randomly placed columns from the search engines Bling, Google and Yahoo. Then you can pick which search you think is the best and then find out which was which. Pretty cool idea.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Science fiction author John Scalzi has a nice write up about those shiny new Apple products and status. You can read it here. You know the day when the Ipod was no longer a status symbal? Probably the day I bought one in the summer of 2006. I wonder when the battery on mine is going to die on me. It's almost three years old and still going strong. I think it may be getting ready to run out. I still have a problem with something that costs $250 being considered expendable. How much does it cost to get your battery replaced?
A street corner in Detroit. This photographer has a lot of excellent pictures of the city.
What's left of Tiger Stadium
An old slide of the Sphinx.
Onomichi, Japan. A city in the Hiroshima Prefecture.
A whale shark in an aquarium in Okinawa.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Since I am unable to accept that Alan does not like Bob Dylan's recent output I will leave you with my favorite song from his 2001 release Love and Theft. It's called High Water and it's the fershizzle.
I will no longer beat this dead horse after this post but I will say one of the reasons I still listen to Dylan and Neil Young is that I am along for the ride. Their output cannot possibly match what they did in their heyday but I still find it rewarding and worthwhile. You could say that as far as Jack White too but I will still buy the next White Stripes album because it will be better than most anything else released even thought it may not match the innocence and energy of their first album. As far as Dylan, how many songwriters, at almost 70 years old, have even approached the quality of his new album Together through Life?
As far as Dylan's success hurting his output, remember the album Blood on the Tracks came out in the mid seventies. By that point he had gone beyond the "voice of his generation" to god-like superduperstar. Granted, his marriage was falling apart but at that point he was as successful as you could be as a pop singer and he was at the top of his game. When he came out with the great Infidels during the early 80s he was hitting the legendary status and here he was still writing songs better than most. That argument doesn't really fly with Dylan because he has put a lot of effort into sabotaging his own popularity and, for the most part, shunning the life of a celebrity. As Paul Kelly once said, "I'm a legend not a star."
I will agree with Alan on that last Rolling Stones album, A Bigger Bang. It's the best album they've put out since the early 80s. My personal favorite track on that album was the blues song Back of my Hand. I played that song about five times in a row the first time I heard it. If A Bigger Bang is their best album since Emotional Rescue then Back of my Hand is their best song since Miss You or Shattered.
Both Kevin and Alan have expressed a disinterest in Bob Dylan's later output. Personally, I'm confused. Since his 1997 album Time out of mind he has been on what many, myself included, consider a roll. I think it has more to do with not giving these newer albums a listen than any lapse by Dylan. He certainly isn't as great as he used to be. Who could expect anyone to match the manic output of his 20s? As he wrote on his great 2001 album Love and Theft:
'As great as you are a man,
You'll never be greater than yourself.'
I told her I didn't really care."
He's still touring, still putting out quality albums and if you aren't giving him a chance then you are depriving yourself of some good listening. The song below is called Nettie Moore and it's off his 2006 album Modern Time. I like it.
Monday, June 08, 2009
He's been touring a lot for the last 20 years. People call it the Never Ending Tour. A name he poo pooed is his recent Rolling Stone interview when he said "Critics should know that there's no such thing as forever." Occasionally I'll visit the great website Dime a Dozen and download a Dylan show and see what he is up to. Dime a Dozen is a great place to find concert recordings. They don't allow people to post officially released stuff, only true bootlegs so no one loses out on any income. Last night I downloaded a show from May 5th in Dublin, Ireland. He tends to pick a song at times that he hasn't played in a while in order to give the fanatics something to chew on. Either that or it helps keep him interested. Or both. I am only halfway through listening to the show right now but the early standout song is "John Brown." It's an antiwar song from the early 60's that he never officially recorded until he did that MTV unplugged album in 1995. Give it a listen, it's an audience recording but it sounds good and you can even understand the lyrics which is sometimes not so easy when Bob is singing. If you do need some assistance you can read the lyrics here.
Bob Dylan - John Brown 05/05/2009
If that isn't enough you can hear the MTV Unplugged version below. It's a Youtube video but there is no video, just the audio.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Weird Al came out with a song back 2003 called "Bob." It's a parody of Bob Dylan and instead of parodying one song Al nails Dylans mid sixties sound and uses hilarious palindromes to perfectly illustrate the cleverness and obliqueness of his lyrics.
Weird Al Yankovic - Bob
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
Hello, I am a squirrel. I will be sitting on this feeder for the next two to three hours until there is nothing left inside this cage that you wasted five bucks on at Lowe's. After I am finished here I am going to go across the yard and climb that shepherd's hook and dump all the seed out of your bird feeder. It's not personal, it's just business.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
I bought that new squirrel feeder and within hours they had knocked it off the tree, pried the door open and had the brick of corn on the ground and were tearing it through like a bunch of blue sharks hitting bait put out by a National Geographic camera crew. Now I have secured the feeder better, raised a few feet off the ground, and secured the door with a twist tie. If they go through this brick as quickly I may just have to resort to squirrel murder.
Here's a couple of shots of one of the little ravenous bastards and the feeder.
My current batch of bird seed has sunflowers in it and that is a big part of the problem. This little creep is eating sunflowers off the ground below the feeder. I am going to have to start buying food that doesn't include sunflowers.
As a bonus here is the bunny we saw while walking to the Harris Teeter during lunch yesterday.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker sitting on the bag they'll be sharing for the next 15 years or so.
An aerial view of the old Daytona beach race course.
Dontrelle Willis, while still pitching for the Marlins, delivers a pitch. I thought initially this was a panorama but it's actually just some good cropping.
A view of Vesuvius from the south across the bay at Sorrento.
A beautiful cloud formation in the Florida Keys.
Union Station in Chicago, IL in 1943.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Turns out that many consider the murdered doctor in Kansas a saint. This man defines bravery. He probably knew he would be killed one day (an attempt was made once before) and yet he continued his work, literally saving lives while being called a murderer on national TV by Bill O'Reilly. A man who devotes his lives to those with no other options ends up murdered in his church while Bill O'Reilly sits in front of TV camera, raking in millions of bucks by doing nothing more than lying to his loyal audience night after night.
Lou Brock 1976 Topps
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
This is another of my favorite cards. I have always liked how it looks like Lou Brock is just about to take off towards second.
I also like the giant yellow star that lets you know, without any doubt, that this player was on the all star team that year.
I've been unable to articulate how disgusted I am by the fake outrage on the right over this 2001 statement made by Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." A brief quote taken from a pretty long speech by the way. But since we live in a soundbite world then this is what people are going to focus on. One sentence from thousands of pages she has authored as a judge and speaker. What could possibly be wrong with that?
John Ridley over at Salon.com puts it perfectly on his blog. He says this in response to Newt Gringrich getting all worked up over Sotomayor's statement:
'"New Racism?" That's apparently a Latina openly talking about how "more often than not" she would like to avoid the "conclusions" that allowed "old racism" to thrive. That's a long way from getting your ass beat for trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge so maybe your kids might one day enjoy the right to vote.
The fact that Newt would even attempt to compare "old racism" and "new racism" only proves Sotomayor correct in saying that experience based on fact is very different than that based on perception.'