Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcome 2010!

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
Oprah Winfrey, Queen of all media

As we eagerly await 2010 and head into year six at Toner Mishap, I will attempt to start writing here more frequently. Not that anyone has really complained about the lack thereof, but it’s my way to share bits and pieces of life as I see it through my tinctured glasses.

The last two years have been exceptionally busy and stressful at work. There are some very hopeful signs 2010 will be different. Potential help is on the way and other encouraging signs that the workload will be a bit more manageable.

This all means that I plan to have more personal time for writing and photography in the coming New Year and throughout the decade. I have some goals I anticipate meeting; a few that I will share are:

Grant writing – Work to become a nonprofit grant writer in my spare time, which I hope will lead to ways to spend my semi-retirement years. My goal is to write at least two grants this year.

Reading – Increase my reading total from 13-15 books a year to 20.

Riding – Get on my bike much more this year. I started out with good intentions, but emergency gallbladder surgery put a major crimp in my plans. Not sure I want to push myself for 60- or 100-miles rides, but who knows.

Publishing – I want to publish my own little iBook of photos and essays.

Spending – Spend much less in 2010.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thank You Democrats!

From the New York Times:

The Senate voted Thursday to reinvent the nation’s health care system, passing a bill to guarantee access to health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and to rein in health costs as proposed by President Obama.

The budget office estimates that the bill would provide coverage to 31 million uninsured people.

And Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, said the business model of the health insurance industry deserved to die.

“It deserves a stake through its cold and greedy heart,” Mr. Whitehouse said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A State of Happiness

“One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, novelist, dramatist, and historian

New research by the UK’s University of Warwick and Hamilton College in the U.S. has used the happiness levels of a million individual U.S. citizens to discover which are the best and worst states in which to live in the United States. New York and Connecticut come bottom of a life-satisfaction league table, and Hawaii and Louisiana are at the top. The analysis reveals also that happiness levels closely correlate with objective factors such as congestion and air quality across the U.S.’s 50 states.

The full report can be found here: full report or the New York Times story can be found here

1 Louisiana
2 Hawaii
3 Florida
4 Tennessee
5 Arizona
6 Mississippi
7 Montana
8 South Carolina
9 Alabama
10 Maine
11 Alaska
12 North Carolina
13 Wyoming
14 Idaho
15 South Dakota
16 Texas
17 Arkansas
18 Vermont
19 Georgia
20 Oklahoma
21 Colorado
22 Delaware
23 Utah
24 New Mexico
25 North Dakota
26 Minnesota
27 New Hampshire
28 Virginia
29 Wisconsin
30 Oregon
31 Iowa
32 Kansas
33 Nebraska
34 West Virginia
35 Kentucky
36 Washington
37 District of Columbia (not a state, just a state of confusion)
38 Missouri
39 Nevada
40 Maryland
41 Pennsylvania
42 Rhode Island
43 Massachusetts
44 Ohio
45 Illinois
46 California
47 Indiana
48 Michigan
49 New Jersey
50 Connecticut
51 New York

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Party of NOPE

What John McCain gets for leading his party of nattering nabobs of negativism -- the party of NOPE

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wonderful Writing

I unplugged my computer. “I unhooked the power cord and the two external drives that I have, and the optical mouse with the little red eye in its belly, and the speakers, and the monitors, and the scanner, and the printer, and the keyboard… and I laughed pityingly at them…My computer was as if amputated--all of its ways of connecting to the world were gone, and it was just a black obelisk with a rich man's name on it. It couldn’t reason, it couldn’t speak, it was imprisoned in its frozen memories, its self was in a state of suspension. It could not add anything to what it had done, or remember anything that it had done.”

Nicholson Baker from “The Anthologist”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
~Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Topics of Conversation at My Cousin's House on Any Given Holiday

By Jason Rohrbacker, courtesy of McSweeney's (where you'll find a cornucopia of hilarious Thanksgiving lists).
Whose house this is and how you'll act in it

Who put a roof over your head and how you'll behave as long as you're under it

Who is not here to win any popularity contests

Who is just plain ignorant

When this conversation is over

What is an argument and what is just a discussion

Whether Democrats or Republicans are closeted child-molesting homosexual Communists

Who is in charge here

How school is going

Who has had more than enough to drink

The weather

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Living with War

The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900-1990), diplomat and politician

Dear Veterans: I truly wish there was no need for your efforts. Sadly, too frequently, that is not the case, so thank you with much admiration.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Corner of Salvation and Damnation

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.
Aldous Huxley (1894 –1963), writer

I was invited to attend a Christian Fellowship church that occupied a prime one-block piece of real estate on Centinela Avenue and Venice Boulevard. It also doubles as a coffee shop. I wonder if those profits are taxed? I normally would have politely declined, but there was some policeman from Fort Apache in the Bronx speaking and wife being from the Bronx knows the area well, so what the heck. Besides, attending a church for something other than a funeral mass would be nice. Afterward we’d go to Santa Monica and walk around.

I am a cynic, what can I say. I looked around the church and saw what I would describe as pious hypocrites and lonely people looking to belong. Good for them, I wish them all well.

Eventually the Christian band finished their set, the preacher starting talking and shoehorning every topic into something about or from God. He mentioned that Friday night was a special couples marriage discussion, I wonder if that includes married gay couples?

The cop was introduced and started his sermon with a story about his little lost soul as a kid and how he was rescued from his tough neighborhood and how eventually he saved someone. Most every sentence was punctuated with an amen at the end. It was all well and good, until the end when the converted cop said something about Jesus coming and saving people unlike Muslims or Hindus. Huh? Hold everything, did I just hear this ambassador of fellowship and Christ show his prejudice? Yes, I did.

I mentioned this to my friend; he had picked up on it too. But, it’s his church and he’ll just forgive the speaker.

Wife and I eventually headed toward Santa Monica, but I kept thinking that rather than add more of a financial burden on the backs of working stiffs (California just instituted a mandatory 10.23 percent state income tax), this country needs to start taxing the churches for income and property taxes, if they are going to preach their politics and prejudices. I have no doubt that the additional tax income will close some of the budget gaps around the country. Amen!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Worst Christmas Card Ever:
Three Wise Camels

It features camels, singing a rewritten version of the Black Eyed Peas song, "My Humps" -- in tribute to Jesus. Please go see it here.

And consider this my early wishes to our Christian friends for a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ready for My Close Up

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.
Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), writer, poet

(click on the pictures for an even closer look)

This predatory, cannibalistic insect is known by his religious name Praying Mantis. He loves aphids, which is why he was allowed to remain. However, once I got a good look at him (I am assuming he is a him, but he could be a her), it would be very difficult for me to do anything other than pick him up and move him/her to another destination.

If his cousins, termites and cockroaches, come around they will be dealt with harshly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Sunday of Sad Sinatra Songs

One and the same thing can at the same time be good, bad, and indifferent, e.g., music is good to the melancholy, bad to those who mourn, and neither good nor bad to the deaf.
Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677), philosopher

It’s Sunday morning for another 30 minutes and I have finished the Los Angeles Times and most of the New York Times. Prior to that listened to CBS "Sunday Morning" show, which featured Andy Williams and further confirmed why I never appreciated his milquetoast interpretations of popular standards. After that was the last 40 minutes of “Meet the Press,” with the politicians doing their version of he said, she said. It’s no wonder that this country has lost its way.

And, it’s no wonder that I am feeling melancholy. I drove just short of 300 miles yesterday taking my great aunt to see a retirement home that is comparable to a four-star hotel when matched up to her nursing facility with its hallways littered with patients asleep in their wheelchairs, and the new place is a $1,000 a month less. The day ended yesterday with auntie relying on a friend’s comment about “I read recently that when you move close to relatives they don’t visit you any more.” I have news for her, she will see me far less if she stays put because I am tired of that 120-mile round trip just to play Rummy 500. So, on top of everything else today I am fatigued. As I type this, I am listening to a Frank Sinatra mix that I call Frank Sinatra (sad). I also have Frank Sinatra (swinging) and Frank Sinatra (live).

My "sad" mix starts with “As Time Goes By” followed by classics from before I was born to his version in the ‘60s and finally in the mid-‘80s. On The Mark told me how he had complied a few of those versions and compared it to a listening version of comparing newly bottled to aged wine. I followed suit and made my list, which I listen to over and over.

As Time Goes By from “Point of No Return”
Don't Worry 'bout Me “Where Are You”
Don't Worry 'bout Me “Frank Sinatra Vegas, Live At The Sands January-February 1966”
Angel Eyes “Only the Lonely”
Angel Eyes "80th year Frank at Meadows Land”
One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) “Only the Lonely”
One more for the Road (And One for My Baby) “Sinatra at the Sands”
One more for the Road “Frank at Meadows Land”
I Can't Believe I'm Losing You “Softly, As I Leave You”
Hey Look, No Cryin' “She Shot Me Down”
Yesterday “My Way”
Drinking Again “Nothing But The Best”
Empty Tables “The Reprise Collection”
Thanks for the Memory “She Shot Me Down”
The Gal That Got Away/It Never Entered My Mind “The Reprise Collection”
Send in the Clowns “The Reprise Collection”
Don't Take Your Love from Me “Sinatra and Strings”
If You Go Away “My Way”
Didn't We “My Way”
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning “In the Wee Small Hours”
My Heart Stood Still “The Concert Sinatra”
My Heart Stood Still "Sinatra 80th"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Toner Mishap Turns 5
Welcome RJW

Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.
Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902), novelist

Toner Mishap is five years old this month, Oct. 19th to be exact. Wow, where did the time go? I have had a lot fun with this blog and over the years. I have seen the pleasure and power of the blog from results of a company afraid of the bad publicity, the spiteful revenge of an alternate juror who tried his darnest to get The Misanthrope in trouble with the courts because he didn’t agree with The Misanthrope's political philosophy, the wrath of a judge who didn’t appreciate The Misanthrope's ruminations on jury duty (not the trial, a fine line the legal system doesn’t recognize), the anger of some loyal employee at a well known electronics store, who can’t recognize that his company suffers from severe lack of customer service, broadcasting daughter’s successes, to comments from a member of The Faces and a once touring member of the Rolling Stones.

Now the page has turned from over-the-top hyperbole to more honest writing and a lot less politics. Politics has turned into a sport of my side versus your side – the country be damned, so politics will be at a minimum going forward unless of course a friend is hurt by the nonsense of such politics like Alice or my daughter who falls into the gap between my policy and being full-time law student.

In any case, this is the rambling way of introducing RJW as the newest member of Toner Mishap and the minimizing of The Misanthrope (truly a softhearted palooka that only a few recognized as such -- softhearted, not so much palooka).

I hope you stick around and come back over the months, the years, and enjoy it all in the process.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Amateur Photography

What is written about a person or an event is frankly an interpretation, as are handmade visual statements, like paintings and drawings. Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire.
Susan Sontag (1933 – 2004) author, literary theorist, and political activist from, "On Photography"

(U.S. High Diving Team '81, photo by RJW)

If I could have a second career it would be as a photographer. Granted, I am coming upon it a bit late, but I thoroughly enjoy it. Oh, I could put on my résumé that I was an official photographer and that I had photos published in newspapers around the country, picked up by Associated Press, The National Enquirer, but I just took it in stride being the official photographer for a major amusement park. I photographed Elton John, Rolling Stones’ keyboardist Ian McLagan, who was on ’81 tour; a runaway bear dragging its trainer on the ground; high divers; Michael Jackson wearing a Groucho Marx mustache and glasses while watching the Temptations; and various other miscellanies around the park. Sadly, I cannot find many of the photos, if I ever had them, but I did get a few good shoots. Still, I never viewed myself as a photographer.

(Mary Travers circa. '81 photo by RJW)

Photographers know what they were doing; know how to develop film, know how to mix chemicals make the photos highlight key aspects of the picture, and know lighting and exposure settings. Me, I would, and still do, take numerous photos hoping that one of the photos on the contact sheet spying it through a photographer’s loop would turn out once I sent it out to be developed.

However, today, I have a greater appreciation of the art of photography and realize how little I know, and today the camera is almost idiot proof and has so many features that you can experiment and even take pictures of something photographed numerous times and still eke out something original. Because I have the Toner Mishap soapbox, I can share my amateur photos with the world and I will as times goes by.

Thank you for your indulgence.

(Smothers Brothers, Tommy and Dick circa. '81, photo by RJW)

by RJW

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Brief Road Trip

“If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there”

The long and winding road that runs along an awe-inspiring stretch of coast sends worries and anxieties straight over the cliff and allows one to appreciate and enjoy the picturesque landscape that every turn reveals on California’s Highway 1.

While I had planned to keep driving up to Oregon, the lovely San Francisco beckon me to stay, so I did since I had no agenda. It had been decades since I last visited San Francisco on my own time and that makes all the difference. The city by the bay is everything Los Angeles is not: vibrate, crisp, and fresh.

Those adjectives apply to the food too, which is delicious and even a sidewalk café features fabulous fare without having to call a friend of a friend to get into the newest food spot. Specialty stores such as The Whiskey Shop, Bill’s Khakis, Orvis, and many others dot the sidewalks. Cable cars or more like electric buses power about the city without belching clouds of exhaust or blocking traffic as it zigzags from curb to pavement.

A day and a night was enough to clear my head, any longer and coming back to Los Angeles would be even tougher. The ride home on Highway 1 was long and leisurely because I stopped to snap photos at every turnout since each location looked spectacular and gorgeous. Once I reviewed them on the computer, I thought every person with a camera must have a sunset picture and if you have visited any coast there are water shots, bridges, so I have nothing original, but I now have my requisite sunset, lighthouse, and ocean shots.

by RJW

Monday, October 05, 2009

Crosby, Stills and Nash
Amazingly Good

"Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something."
Frank Zappa (1940 – 1993), composer, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director

I am still in awe of the Crosby, Stills & Nash concert at the Greek Theater on Saturday, Oct. 3; those three men are incredibly talented singers, songwriters, and musicians. There is something about their three-part harmony that has a calming effect. The trio entered the stage to a standing ovation. Forty years ago they played the Greek for a seven-night, sold-out engagement. Graham Nash referred to the difference between now and then stating that there was no one in the trees this time around.

The show opened with “Helplessly Hoping” and “Wasted on the Way.” In the early going of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour concert David Crosby told us they were going to experiment and play some of their favorites by other artists that may appear on a new CD they are working on. The covers set started with the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday,” and included James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes,” Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” and the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band.” They also preformed: “Guinevere,” “A Dream For You,” “In Your Name,” “Our House,” then there was a short break.

As they promised the second half rocked with Stephen Stills singing and playing legendary guitar on “Love the One You’re With,” “Rock & Roll Woman” and throughout the second half. Stills is overlooked as a leading guitarist. Graham also mentioned that Stills played great guitar and had throughout the entire tour.

One of the many highlights of the evening was Crosby’s bluesy voice belting out “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Long Time Gone,” and “Wooden Ships” backed by Stills blistering guitar work.

Our seats were in the fourth row, DD center. It was an intimate setting with a barefooted Nash sipping red wine between songs, high fiving the people in front of us. I have seen a number of concerts over the years, but this easily ranks in the top five. And, adding to the wonderful evening, my friend R.O. let us park in his driveway, just a block or two away from the theater, so after the show it was a short walk down the hill into the car and zooming home listening to more CSN.

Note: Hendrix and I cut a bunch of stuff together. He was a very dear friend of mine, we were lonely in London together and hung out a lot. I left England suddenly, and years later I learned from Mitch Mitchell that Jimi had been looking for me everywhere – wanted me to join the Experience as the bass player, which would have been my greatest dream in life! It had something to do with a manager deciding it was a wrong career move and said, “we don’t know where he is.” I learned to play lead guitar from Jimi, he showed me the scales and said things like, “You begin by thinking about the chord position and base your improvisations on that Or he’d make some little remark like, F sharp is really cool, and we’d improvise until the inspiration began to ebb, then he’d look at me and say, “you drive.” You had to hear that cat play acoustic guitar! We once jammed for about five days, one long marathon session in my beach house in Malibu. The sheriff’s deputy overheard our guitar playing. When he found out it was us he asked permission to park his police car directly outside the house so he could listen in while he fielded radio calls. Told us not to worry about a thing, he’d be looking out for us. Stephen Stills, song notes on “Old Times Good Times” from the CSN box set.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Heart Attack and Grand

Heart Attack and Grand
Turn out more, turn out more
Hours piled high, looking for the door
It’s all about the deal and the dollar
And the workers do nothing but whimper and holler
Management pushes its brand
Everyone sees a tired corpse on heart attack and Grand

Saturday, October 03, 2009


“The greatest tragedy in America is not the destruction of our natural resources, though that tragedy is great. The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841–1935),justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Reasons why not to listen to HR.

Tip of the hat to Random Thoughts

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Republican Health Care Plan

“Great physicians and nurses, skilled, caring and unparalleled in their training, intervened in my life and probably saved it. I was lucky but other Americans are not. It is time to speak again and stand again for the ideal that in the richest nation ever on this planet, it is wrong for 41 million Americans, most of them in working families, to worry at night and wake up in the morning without the basic protection of health insurance.”
Senator John Kerry

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Insurance Death Panels

This is an outrage! Sadly, whatever health care that is passed, most likely a watered down pile of crap that Republicans will point to and say I told you so, even though it was their absolute NO to everything that caused the plan to fail. Just a prediction.

Why am I angry? I encourage you to read Alice's insurance story over at Through a Looking Glass. Here is a snippet:

Our system is broken, clearly, but I don't have much faith in so-called reform, despite being a yellow-dog Democrat. Even with "insurance," we already have rationed health care, and I can't imagine the next round will cover my health needs any better than the crappy system in which I am enmeshed.

One of my closest friend's mother was diagnosed with lymphoma last week. This week, she's already gone for round one of chemo. She is 80, and recently she said, "old age is not for the faint-hearted." Her daughter, a veteran of the cancer wars, is a great advocate for her.

For the rest of us, however, her mom would say, 'It's a great life if you don't weaken."

Our system is indeed broke, we don't need no stinkin' Death Panels, we already have the insurance companies for that.

New(ish) CDs

“Music is what feelings sound like.”

Some of the new music I purchased in the past few weeks include:

The Bright Mississippi by Allen Toussaint – A fabulously relaxing New Orleans jazz CD by an elegant artist. I discovered Toussaint through Elvis Costello’s CD with him “The River in Reverse.” Toussaint plays piano and I found his take on Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” to evoke a more pensive and less melancholy feel. Toussaint, 71, has been around for many years as a producer, musician, and songwriter. This is one of my recent favorite CDs. Songs include: “Egyptian Fantasy,” “Dear Old Southland,” “St. James Infirmary,” “Singin’ the Blues,” “West End Blues,” “Blue Drag,” “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “Bright Mississippi,” “Day Dream,” “Long, Long Journey,” and “Solitude.”

The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again by John Fogerty – It just shy of being too much rockabilly for me, despite its country charms there are some very enjoyable songs, such as “When Will I Be Loved,” made famous by Linda Ronstadt, anyone still remember her? This version includes Bruce Springsteen, which adds a rugged touch, as John Fogerty said in the CD review in the Wall Street Journal. Other songs include: Credence Clearwater Revival’s "Change in the Weather," “Garden Party,” which features Don Henley and it’s not easy to tell the difference between this version and Ricky Nelson’s original; Paradise, Never Ending Song of Love, I Don't Care (Just As Long As You Love Me), Back Home Again, I'll Be There (If Ever You Want Me), Moody River, Heaven's Just a Sin Away, Fallin' Fallin' Fallin', Haunted House, and Blue Ridge Mountain Blues (From the Concert At Royal Albert Hall "Comin Down The Road").

Monsters of Folk by Conor Oberst, Jim James, M. Ward, Mike Mogis – This is a nice mellow, winterly collection of songs, it’s too bad we don’t have much of a winter in Southern California, but there will be plenty of fireplace nights of reading and doing puzzles in which to enjoy. I liked M. Ward’s solo efforts better, such as his last one “Hold Time," which came out in February. This is not bad, just not worth all the publicity it has generated. I would list the songs but it doesn’t matter, you wouldn’t know them anyway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hidden in the Closet

“Hot funk, cold punk, even if it's old junk, it's still rock and roll to me.”
Billy Joel, singer/song writer

I decided for no particular reason to not pull the car into the garage, thinking I might go out for some errands. The news was on and then I heard a massive crashing sound. I ran out to the garage and noticed that the shelves above my workbench had come crashing down.

In the cabinet were a number of my old records. As I picked them up many memories flooded back. Then there were the LPs that I had no idea why they were there and how they came into my possession.

I used the pool table to store everything until it was cleaned up. Obviously there were too many LPs stored in the little cabinet, I guess it was due to full apart.

This Frank Sinatra LP "Trilogy" was purchased because an excited call from OnTheMark raving about a great song called "New York."

The Blues Brothers "A Briefcase Full of Blues." Coincidentally, Jack, over at Random Thoughts just wrote about this and then out of the blue it comes crashing out of my cabinet. This was a Christmas present either '79 or '80.

The Star Wars Story, I have no idea why I have this or where it came from.

This JFK Memorial was a freebie that my grandparents had, but I have not listened to it, yet.

Another from the hey day of Saturday Night Live. Anyone remember this?

David Bowie's "Space Oddity" became a big favorite in high school, but initially, I was a bit embarrassed to carry it home, so I hid it in my notebook. A great LP that I soon was not only NOT hiding, but telling people about it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Holocaust? What Holocaust?

September 23

Contested Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the stage at the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009, in New York, where he spoke of the importance of peace, love, compassion, morality, justice and freedom.


September 25

Under fire for his repeated denials of the Holocaust, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the deaths of millions of Jews during World War II a "historical event" during an interview with NPR's Morning Edition to air Friday, but he quickly dismissed the accounts of Holocaust survivors as "claims."

"Why should everyone be forced to accept the opinion of just a few on a historic event?" he asked host Steve Inskeep.

Ahmadinejad stirred up controversy again last week by using a national televised speech in Iran to call the Holocaust a "lie and a mythical claim."


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monsters of Folk
Consumer Alert

Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Matt Ward, AKA, M. Ward from She/Him; Yim Yams, AKA, Jim James, from My Morning Jacket have combined for a new CD titled “Monsters of Folk,” which is not particularly folky but a review may be forthcoming later.

If you are planning on purchasing "Monsters of Folk," Amazon has the MP3 for $3.99 compared with iTunes’ $9.99. iTunes offers one exclusive song that you can buy individually for $0.99, for a total for $4.99.

Friday, September 18, 2009

L'shanah tovah!

What better way to wish you all a happy and sweet new year, than with a photo of our president wielding a lightsaber?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers RIP

How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
Bob Dylan song made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary (Mary Travers 1936-2009)

Mary Travers was 72. among the groups big hits were: 'If I Had A Hammer,' 'Leaving on a Jet Plane,' 'Blowin' in the Wind,'and 'Puff the Magic Dragon.' The cause was complications from chemotherapy.

Friday, August 28, 2009


"It's a good thing I got that phone. The 80s called -- they want all this paper back!"

"But what else can I do with it?"

"Maybe if I stare at it long enough, an idea will come to me. In the meantime, that phone was a great idea."

"At last, the final accessory for my 80s-themed room!"

"It looks perfect here under dim lighting with my glass cube wall."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Diehard Baseball Fans

"The only way you can become a legend is in your coffin”
Bette Davis (1908-1989), actress

The local news reported this as new, but coffins decked out with your favorite baseball team’s logo and colors are available to those who fill the need for additional attention at their own funeral.

In defense of the local newscast, maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers are just the latest team to okay their iconic graphics to grace the final resting place. I looked for a photo of the Dodger casket but could not find one, so the Mets will have to suffice.

I would not be surprised to discover the Los Angeles Dodger owner Frank McCourt agreed because he thought he could collect fees from fans in perpetuity.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elvis Costello at the Greek Theater

In the fashionable nightclubs and finer precincts
Man uses words to dress up his vile instincts
Ever since we said it
He went and took the credit
It's been headed this way since the world began
When a vicious creature took the jump from Monkey to Man
Elvis Costello, singer, song writer, lyrics from "Monkey to Man"

It’s not very far from the cheap seats of the Greek theater to view an outstanding performance by Elvis Costello and a decent set from Lucinda Williams. I had the pleasure of watching Costello play songs from his new CD “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane.”

I had minimal expectations for the show because the last time, at least 10 or more years ago, I saw him at the Universal Amphitheatre, it was loud, had muddled sound, and his lyrics were indistinguishable, not in a Bob Dylan way just simply lost in the sound system. This show was more acoustic as he played nearly all the songs off “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane” backed by the Nashville band the Sugarcanes. He also covered his old hits such as “Brilliant Mistake,” “Allison,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Blame it on Caine,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” in the style of his new CD.

What was particularly nice was that I purchased the tickets from Goldstar at $25 each, plus an odious service charge. While at was in the last rows it wasn’t as far back as I could have been since the show was far from a sell out. They covered the extra seats with a camouflage tarp and wheeled in potted trees and placed them in the middle of the empty rows, which unless I was right next to it I never would have known there were rows of empty seats.

Lucinda Williams was good, but seemed too lackadaisical as if she didn’t really care, which I know wasn’t the case because she stopped in the early stages of a song because the string on her guitar was “poorly tuned.” The highlight of seeing Williams was her duet with Costello on “Jailhouse Tears” and the Rolling Stones hit “Happy.”

The only truly downside to the evening was the rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate dimwit knuckleheaded woman who insisted on talking very loudly during Lucinda Williams’ set, even when I politely signaled for her to be quiet. The woman could be a character from Costello’s song “How to be Dumb.”

The Los Angeles Times review of the concert can be found here.

I found this in the comment section of the LATimes article:

Main set: Mystery Train (Parker/Phillips) / My All Time Doll / Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down (Merle Haggard) / Down among the Wine and Spirits / Blame It on Cain / Femme Fatale (Lou Reed/Velvet Underground) / The Delivery Man / The Butcher’s Boy (traditional) / Jailhouse Tears* / Happy* (The Rolling Stones) / Indoor Fireworks / Hidden Shame / Dragging Me These Last Few Yards** / Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead) / Everyday I Write the Book / Five Small Words** (with a coda of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away) / She Was No Good / Brilliant Mistake
Encore: Red Cotton / The Crooked Line / (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes / Sulfur to Sugarcane / Complicated Shadows*** / The Scarlet Tide*** / The Race Is On (George Jones) / Alison (with a coda of Faron Young’s He’ll Have to Go)
* with Lucinda Williams, who wrote Jailhouse Tears
** unreleased song, title possibly incorrect
*** with T Bone Burnett

Lucinda Williams’ opening set
Hard Time Killing Floor Blues / Well Well Well / Happy Woman Blues / People Talkin’ / Fruits of My Labor / Blue / Jackson (with Jim Lauderdale) / Nothing in Rambling / Joy

Or for more info try:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Real News vs Fox News

Here's one of the more important clips of Barney Frank's town hall meeting on health care -- it gives you a sense of what was going on there. Spoiler alert: Frank channels Godwin's law.

And here's what Fox News showed -- start at 1:27 if you're short on time.

The Final Girl

One of the blogs I follow on Twitter is GeekTyrant, and I stumbled on a term there today that I had to read more about -- "the final girl." I wound up on Wikipedia, and will just copy-and-paste the good stuff for you to read and consider -- all about horror films and gender roles and feminism, especially in the writings of Carole Clover.

... the final girl is typically sexually unavailable or virginal, avoiding the vices of the victims (sex, narcotic usage, etc.). She sometimes has a unisex name (e.g. Teddy, Billie, Georgie, Sidney).

... audience identification is unstable and fluid across gender lines, particularly in the case of the slasher film. During the final girl’s confrontation with the killer ... she becomes masculinized through "phallic appropriation" by taking up a weapon, such as a knife or chainsaw, against the killer. Conversely ... the villain of slasher films is often a male whose masculinity, and sexuality more generally, are in crisis. Examples would include Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, or Billy and Stu from Wes Craven's satirical horror film Scream. Clover points to this gender fluidity as demonstrating the impact of feminism in popular culture.

The phenomenon of the male audience having to identify with a young female character in an ostensibly male-oriented genre, usually associated with sadistic voyeurism, raises interesting questions about the nature of slasher films and their relationship with feminism. Clover argues that for a film to be successful, although the Final Girl is masculinized, it is necessary for this surviving character to be female, because she must experience abject terror, and many viewers would reject a film that showed abject terror on the part of a male. The terror has a purpose, in that the female is 'purged' if she survives, of undesirable characteristics, such as relentless pursuit of pleasure in her own right. An interesting feature of the genre is the 'punishment' of beauty and sexual availability.

Elvis Costello Video

Elvis Costello on David Letterman. I saw Costello last night at the Greek Theater. He was outstanding. I'll write more about it later. In the meantime enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Imagining the Tenth Dimension

Science geeks like me will enjoy this short video that imagines what the tenth dimension is like (by walking us through the nine that precede it).

Thanks, BoingBoing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Klan Sheep at the Ventura County Fair


The identity of the sheep and its breeders have now been obscured to protect them from those who don't understand how jokes work.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hopper Rolls On:
More "Nighthawks' Parodies

I've got another couple of "Nighthawks" parodies for all you Edward Hopper fans, just discovered.

The first is the work of Josh Ellingson, who seems to be a pretty fine illustrator:

Here's one from a Flickr user named bredlo, which may appeal to fans of the classic Airstream camper:

If you know why a pink polar bear attacking the diner is funny (from this guy), please let me know:

Rick Veitch has a great reworking of the diner as it might look in Iraq (click it to see it bigger):

There's a Sesame Street version (among other great Sesame Street versions of classic art):

If you want to see the rest of the parodies, click below.

First batch
Second batch
Third batch
Star Wars parody
New Year's parody

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Songs for the Great Recession

CEO Can You Spare a Job
("Brother Can You Spare a Dime" butchered by the Misanthrope with apologies to Yip Harburg)

They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob
When there were cars to build or computers to assemble
I was always there right on the job

They used to tell me I was building a dream
With gold and riches ahead
Why should I be sleeping in my car
Just gonna end up dead?

Once I built houses, I made them strong
Made them stand against the rain
Once I built homes, now they’re empty
CEO, can you spare a job, I have a brain

Once I invested on Wall Street
401s, stocks and bonds
Once I invested, now they are bailed out
Hey Hank Paulson, I failed too?

Once in three-piece suits, gee we looked cool
Full of hopes for the American dream
Now half a million dollars in debt
I was the loyal serf, now it’s me and Jim Beam

Say, don't you remember, they called me "valuable"
I was MVP all the time
Why don't you remember, I‘m expendable now
Say boss, can you spare a job

There may be hope on the horizon, but in the meantime, we watch unemployment benefits try up and wait for the home foreclosure bomb to hit here are a few songs contemporary and from the Great Depression to accompany us through the rough times.
  1. The Poorhouse – Boxmasters
  2. Help the Poor – Eric Clapton & B.B. King
  3. Foreclosure Blues – Jerry Raven & Tom Naples
  4. Pay Me My Money Down – Bruce Springsteen
  5. Busted by Ray Charles from Ray Sings, Basie Swings
  6. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime – Dave Brubeck
  7. Low Budget -- The Kinks
  8. Land of Broken Promises – Elvis Costello & Allen Toussain
  9. God’s Away on Business – Tom Waits
  10. We Can’t Make it Here – James McMurtry
  11. Detroit Moan -- Victoria Spivey
  12. Money – Pink Floyd
  13. If You Have the Money, I Have the Time – Willie Nelson
  14. It's Money That I Love --Randy Newman
  15. It's Money That Matters -- Randy Newman
  16. Money (That's What I Want) -- John Lennon
  17. How Can a Poor Man Stand such Time and Live -- Bruce Springsteen
  18. Poorhouse – Traveling Wilburys (Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynn, Roy Obison)
  19. Are You Making Any Money? -- Chick Bullock And His Levee Loungers
  20. Gloomy Sunday – Billie Holiday

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Elected officials Demonstrating Candor
Be Afraid, Very Afraid...

Realism provides only amoral observation, while Absurdism rejects even the possibility of debate.
Frances Babbage, playwright, "Augusto Boal"

This is unbelievable.

You can find the entire article at Huffington Post

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


“Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), playwright, poet

A man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle...