Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sleepy Hollow Idyll

I decided I needed a small break from being really, really pissed off. This being the eve of the Feast of All Hallows (and the Headless Horseman being featured in a Yahoo homepage flash animation), I have decided to give a shout out to everyone's favorite headless Hessian. The Headless Horseman serves as a genius loci of Sleepy Hollow- there is a restaurant named after him, and the local athletic teams are named the Horsemen.

Sleepy Hollow, NY lies about thirteen (cue scary music) miles north of my home in the City of Y______. Formerly North Tarrytown, the town's population voted to change the name of the town in 1996 to honor Washington Washington Irving's beloved tale, which is set in the vicinity of the Pocantico River (and to try to start a tourism-based economy after the manufacturing base of the local economy* disappeared). In 1999, the Tim Burton movie loosely based on Irving's tale hit the theaters, giving the newly-named village a cult status that was unanticipated.

Sleepy Hollow is also the site of Philipsburg Manor, an 18th century provisioning plantation/milling complex (the Pocantico river has been dammed to run the manor's gristmill since the 1700s, the current mill is a reproduction) which is now a historic site worked by farmer-historians in period clothes who relate the history of slavery, commerce, and agriculture in the pre-revolutionary period. Class trips to the manor have been a rite of passage for schoolchildren in the NY metro area for decades. The Pillipse family had the Old Dutch Church built as a place of worship approximately 325 years ago.

In 2006, a statue of the Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod Crane was erected on Route 9, the same Broadway which stretches from Lower Manhattan to the Canadian border, south of the Pocantico River:

While not a Disney fan (I abhor the lobbying they have done to change intellectual property laws- especially in light of the fact that they made their bones employing characters in the public domain), I have to confess that I enjoy the Disney cartoon narrated by Bing Crosby. The cartoon, which miraculously can be found on Youtube, has more of a sassy "Tex Avery" style vibe to it:

I have never seen the 1999 movie, but I consider myself a purist. I look at Ichabod Crane as the template on which the character of Shaggy from Scooby Doo is based. Ichabod, like Shaggy, is ruled by his appetites, and loves Katrina Van Tassel for the richness of her father's dinner table as much as for her zaftig good looks:

The pedagogue’s mouth watered, as he looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages; and even bright chanticleer himself lay sprawling on his back, in a side-dish, with uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask while living.

Ichabod Crane is also credulous, like Shaggy, but lacks the support of a brainy girl, a clever jock, a fortuitously clumsy red-headed charmer, and a talking dog, and can't figure out that the spectre which leads to his downfall just might not be real. Alas, he also lacks a groovy, tricked-out van to carry him to the safe haven which lay south of the Pocantico.

Sorry about the paucity of links in the latter paragraphs of the post- it's getting late, and I've had a long day. That being said, curl up with Washington Irving's original, and have a happy Halloween.

*There was a General Motors plant in North Tarrytown. "The water turned greenish brown, except by the GM plant, where it turned red or yellow or whatever color that they were painting the cars that day."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tea Tea Macoutes

While certainly not the first to characterize Rand Paul as Baby Doc, I haven't found any characterizations of his thuggish supporters as Tea Tea Macoutes. Suggested slogan for the Tea Tea Macoutes:

Rand Paul Devolution
Stomping girls is our solution.

I wish I had some flying monkeys to give this some traction. I can haz meem?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Republican Guard

In two recent events, we have seen violent assaults by GOP candidates' personal goon squads. I can't recall any previous instances in which American political candidates have surrounded themselves with violent retainers. The reporter kidnaping, woman stomping thugs that these candidates surround themselves with are exactly like the late Saddamn Hussein's Republican Guard minus the fashion sense. Meanwhile, elements of the right wing chattering class (I refuse to link directly to their sites- no need to drive traffic their way) defend the indefensible actions of these thugs. Yes, Orwell's future has come to these United States.

As a karate expert someone who enjoys the physical act of fighting, there's only one thing I despise more than an attack by a strong individual on a weak one, and that's an attack on a helpless individual, such as the attack on Ms. Valle by woman-beater Tim Profitt while she was being held down by tackle and grope attacker Mike Pezzano. To compound matters, the despicable Profitt is demanding an apology from his victim.

Let's hope that the candidates who surround themselves will go down in a hail of ballots next week. Enthusiasm gap, my ass!

Should they win, let's hope that the Democrats in Congress introduce an "anti-stomping of helpless women" bill just to make the fuckers squirm.

Oh, and I'll just add that, while I would love to see Profitt and Pezzano convicted of felony assault charges, I abhor any suggestion that they fall victim to violence or sexual assault. The notion that anyone would wish that the penal system serve as "secular hell" turns my stomach. I would, however, see permanent disenfranchisement and lifetime separation from their precious guns as fitting punishments for these shitbags.

Update: The absolute glee on the part of these goddamn sociopaths is truly mind-boggling. How the hell could any sane human being think like they do? Really, what the fuck is wrong with them?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Living a Lie?

I've been making limoncello for years- for a change of pace, I decided to change my game a bit, and make an experimental batch of multi-citrus infused liqueur, a Fivealivello, if you will. Not willing to commit to a large batch if things didn't work out, I only used one bottle of grain alcohol to infuse a mixture of orange, lemon, and lime peels. Wow! The final product has a bit more of a bitter hint in it, and a lovely fragrance of limes... I may be onto something here. I certainly won't stop making limoncello (the old standby), but this new blend is something else entirely... my eyes have been opened to a new reality- a boozy, citrific reality.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wanted to Post on the Night of the Full Moon

This time of year, I get my ass kicked by work (living at night isn't helping my complection). The ass-kicking is coming in two varieties- there are the yerba mate fueled all nighters and the eleven-hour (ten spent on my feet, running around) event logistics gigs... two different flavors of "bastard's getting his butt kicked", served up on a regular basis. I wanted to post something on Friday night/Saturday morning, but I was wiped out. When I finally had time to sit down, I spent my time lamenting the disappearance of record stores with one of my awesome co-workers (we also joked about how Nessun Dorma describes our schedules these days), and didn't have time to write.

Yesterday (the word hardly has a meaning for me anymore), I started work at 3PM, and am working straight through to 6AM- this has been a stretch combining the two different types of ass-kickery I am undergoing. Event bleeds into overnight, sore feet are traded in for tired eyes.

Anyway, I did experience an idyllic moment the night of the full moon- I had to kill a couple of floodlight arrays in a parking area, and found myself in a barren parking field, rendered an eldritch otherworld by the luminescent altar of the lupine lords, and I figured that I needed to post a Halloween/full moon themed music video, a charming ditty by the drouthy antipodes' Screaming Tribesmen:

I played the hell out of the Vampyre EP when I was a beardless boy- this is another one to crank up to full volume.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Adding to the Lexicon

I must confess, I am still a little hung up on examples of utter stupidity being paraded around for all to see. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that there is a breed of stupidity so abysmal that it approaches Empyrean heights... it is a dumbassitude that flirts with genius.

I feel that this world shattering stupidity can be transformative... with such divine dunderheadedness, the mere foolish mortal becomes a god of goonery- undergoing an asspotheosis.

This concept of stupidity overcoming mere mortal muttonheadedness was, in part, inspired by a Jack Vance passage which describes a ideal of "corrosive or metal-bursting sagacity". Asspotheosis is the opposite of that ideal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Imagine Science Film Festival

On Monday night (my sense of time is pretty warped these days), I schlepped down to the Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for an Imagine Science Film Festival event. The night's program began with the results of the Dance Your Ph.D. contest. Dancing scientists, how do they work? My favorite video in this portion of the program was “Selection of a DNA aptamer for homocysteine using Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment.” This portion of the program was followed by a two-song set by Neuroscientist/Rockers The Amygdaloids, and a screening of the video for the song Mind Over Matter (featuring Rosanne Cash!), directed by Imagine Science Film Festival originator and all-around genius Dr. Alexis Gambis:

The video was followed by several shorts, my favorites being ugly/cute animated science-fantasy Skhizein, which (being filmed in black and white and dealing with a distortion of reality) reminded me of a 1920's Expressionistic film (or maybe that was the effect of a few Allagash Whites) and Fried Egg Jelly, a cute cartoon from the wonderful Creaturecast website which details the relationship of jellyfish Phacellophora camtschatica and its crustaceous symbionts.

The real revelation of the night was a performance by the instantly likeable band Balún. Formerly of San Juan, Puerto Rico, but now living in Greenpoint, the band combines lush "wall of sound" pop with traditional folk instruments and 8-bit noodling, making for a pretty (though not twee- their last song featured a full-on aural assault which tempered the sweetness of the melody) and idiosyncratic soundscape. The band is adorable- they look like they should be grading blue books, and their lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón reminds me of an accordion-slinging, Boricua version of
Velma (I don't know whether I am pleased or terrified that there is such a thing as "Scoobypedia"):

There's a rather lengthy live video, of the band, although the sound quality is not up to snuff. As I said, they were instantly likeable, and I wish them a long, successful career.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Uh... The New Post is a Couple of Posts Back

I finally got around to publishing the post-lecture recap from last week's Secret Science Club lecture. That being said, tonight the Imagine Science Film Festival comes to Gowanus paradise The Bell House. A very tired Bastard (yeah, it's been another yerba mate fueled all-nighter) will drag his ass to Brooklyn for the festival.

Also, I want to take some time to extend my best wishes to Ned and the lovely Mrs. B. I've been playing catch-up lately, so I am late to the game on this one. All the best to the Beaumonts.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Haiku Gambit

I am quite busy.
Pressed for time? Post a haiku.
The long post can wait.

I went through a short phase during which I compulsively wrote haikus. I would be in the middle of a conversation, and I would start counting syllables. One of my personal favorites was:

General Tso was
Too busy cooking chicken
To win any wars.

Update: Of course, the post title could be the first line of a haiku:

The haiku gambit-
A poet's trick for when there's
No time for sonnets.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Please Make This an Internet Meme

I was in the process of writing up last night's Secret Science Club lecture when I realized that I don't have the time to do the lecture justice tonight (I'll finish the wrap-up A.S.A.P., but I gots to find some good links on primate cladistics). Time for a short, goofy post...

In the vein of the Pirates vs. Ninjas meme, I think the next big hypothetical match-up a la Superman vs. Mighty Mouse or Hunahpu vs. Xbalanque should be Jetpacks vs. Choppers. I have to confess, I can't stop laughing at the sheer perfection of the delivery of the line: You gotta make up some rules, because you’re going to have jetpacks flying into choppers! Brian Kilmeade sounds so abysmally stupid that he must be a subversive comedic genius, waging a stealth campaign to completely undermine his network. It may be, though, that my suspicion that Kilmeade's a brilliant satirist is just the effect of Poe's Law (more broadly defined to include all modern "Conservative" thought) in action.

Jetpacks vs. Choppers, baby, 'cos somtimes ya gotta break the rules.

Long Overdue Post Lecture Recap

This month's Secret Science Club lecture was by formerly mohawked (now shave-pated like myself) Evolutionary Anthropologist Todd Disotell, of NYU's Center for Human Origins. The topic of the lecture was applying the concept of the molecular clock to determine the approximate times of divergence within the primate clade. The "molecular clock" is typically calibrated using evidence from the fossil record.

Molecular dating techniques determine the the chimpanzee ancestor/human ancestor split occurred 5.4 to 6.3 million years ago, but that the initial divergence was followed by a period of hybridization.

Another topic that came up was the probability that the primates have a Cretaceous origin, so our oldest primate ancestors had to evade predaceous theropods (but nothing like this ever happened).

Sorry about the somewhat half-assed recap... work has gotten in the way of posting. To make up for my lackluster post, I'll try to make it up to you by posting a video of Dr Disotell in all his mohawked glory:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Yerba Mate Fueled All-Nighter

'Tis the season- work alternates between hectic event logistics gigs and all-night endurance tours. I have a two-liter bottle of yerba mate (in a concession to convenience, I brewed it in a coffee-maker, rather than using the traditional bombilla and gourd method of consumption. It's a quiet night, and I've been indulging in a little nostalgia.

The video quality isn't perfect, but the song has a great line which resonates with a d00d who's working an all-nighter- You spoiled my day for the rest of the night. Indeed, work, you spoiled what could have been a great night of binge drinking...

I really didn't know anything about The Bluebells, but have learned that, like a surprising number of bands that made up the 80's U.K. pop invasion, they hailed from Scotland.

For me, the quintessential Scottish band will always be these guys- with the late, great Stuart Adamson having one of popular music's most distinctive voices:

The headband is a bit much, though.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Early October, Bastard Style

This is my busy season- between the annual resumption of my volunteering gig, and the busy month at work, I typically leave the house around 8 A.M. on Saturday morning bearing so many bags, an observer would think I was leaving for a week. I typically drag my ass home around 1:30 or 2 A.M. Sunday, looking like four miles of bad road.

Today has been an especially beautiful day- the weather has been pristine. I got to my typical parking vicinity, and found that all the spots were taken. There were a lot of charter buses, which had shuttled cross-country runners from the entire tri-state area to Van Cortlandt Park. Running in the park is a ritual for all local distance runners- I run a tab- the park is also where this stalwart fellow would go to beat his balls with a club. Of course, this did not help me find a spot by the 238th St Station, so I drove south so I could pick up the subway at 231st St. The 1 train wasn't running north of 168th St, so I took the free shuttle bus to 207th St and hopped on the A train.

After the gig, I walked out on a cloudless, mid-seventies degree day. I walked north to Central Park, which was packed with people commemorating the 70th anniversary of the birth of John Lennon. The Merchants' Gate plaza was packed with people, many wearing "IMAGINE" t-shirts. I felt a minor pang as I entered the subway station- to be underground on such a lovely day was a shame, but duty beckoned (as I reckoned). The A train is a much quicker ride than my beloved 1 train, so I arrived at the Bronx in a trice, and was able to get to work on the early side.

Work has been pretty hectic, hence the tardiness of my post. Today has been one of those days when everything seemed to be pushed back an hour, and I have been running around more than usual. A month now, all this will seem a blur, and I can settle back into routine (although the 8AM to 1AM slog is pretty typical of my entire mid-fall to late winter reality).

I'm not kvetching, though- work is good, and my co-workers are fantastic. I always joke about my job being extremely cushy, except when it's not... this is just the "not" season.

Before I sign off on this rambling post, I just want to say that, in honor of the John Lennon anniversary, I'll post one of my favorite Beatles songs... for all the good people in the "IMAGINE" t-shirts:

I primarily dig this song because it has a real "proto alt-country" vibe, much like another Bastard favorite, the 'Stones' Dead Flowers. While most commercial country music is utter crap, I tend to love the alt-country stuff.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gadzooks, They're Not Even Pretending To Do News Anymore

I still can't believe that Fox (can't dignify them with the "News" moniker) ran a story , based on original reporting by the crack journalists of the brilliantly loony Weekly World News, about the purchase of 10,000 jetpacks by the L.A.P.D. Oddly enough, this piece is funnier than the "satirical" show Fox ran (for added hilarity, check out the first comment on the linked site). The dark-haired guy (can't be arsed looking up his name) comes across as an especially lunk-headed mook:

Underneath the hilarity, this story rankles for a few reasons. First, it is merely the most egregious example of the piss-poor fact-checking that is the "new normal" in the news media (so-called). It's also a transparently false (uh, dark-haired d-bag, if Montana has a surplus, it's because of states like California) anti-government spending piece... if this little fable had been set in Bush-era Colorado Springs, it would have been glowingly covered as a "get tough on crime" narrative. Finally, the Martin Jetpack Company is based in New Zealand, a nation I had been led to believe possessed no aircraft more sophisticated than trebuchet-launched gliders. Now, I am skeered and afeared that an invasion force of New Zealanders, accompanied by unholy hypnostag/Haast's eagle hybrids, will pillage my neighborhood, carrying off all of the akvavit and blood pudding, and adding superfluous "U's" to the marquees of the local color-printing businesses.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Somebody's Gonna Get a Beating!

In an effort to increase revenues, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has decided to create "fetish trains", so that subway riders willing to pay extra fees can indulge in their kinks while commuting to work. The first of these trains was supposed to appeal to the BDSM crowd, but the signage for the trains was all screwed up:

The errant sign painter is to be confined in a dungeon and will be paddled to ensure that such errors will not be repeated in future. For the record, my favorite "S&M" themed song is Whips and Furs by the Vibrators, but I knew that certain blogroll members would have been upset if I hadn't linked to B.Ö.C.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Should've Posted This Yesterday

In keeping with my "in the submarine, won't surface much" theme- perhaps my favorite 'Pistols song is Submission. The Sex Pistols' Svengali manager, the late Malcolm McLaren suggested that the band write a song about BDSM, but the band subverted the idea.

My favorite thing about this song is that, while superficially silly, it works on a deeper level as an ode to the inscrutability that all women can possess. The hapless narrator is literally out of his depth, and is unable to fathom the mystery posed by the woman in whom he's "drowning". Yes, it's about taking the piss in response to Malcolm McLaren's management, and it's about a "submarine mission", but it's about so much more and it rucking focks... TURN IT UP TO ELEVEN!!!

I also want to put in a quick plug for Jon Savage's England's Dreaming, which is my all-time favorite book on music/pop-culture. I am not big on rock-star biography/hagiography, but this book transcends the genre, and offers a fascinating glimpse of mid-to-late seventies culture, in the U.K., and further afield. It also has an indispensible discography.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Captain Nemo

As I said last week, this is a busy time of year for me. I'm much like Captain Nemo going down in the submarine- I'll surface from time-to-time, but my appearances won't be all that common.

On Saturday, I left the house at 7:45 AM, and drove to 238th St and Broadway in the Bronx to catch the subway to Manhattan for my volunteer gig. The 1 Train was not running from 168th St uptown, so I had to take a shuttle bus to 207th and catch the A Train. I spent the morning and the early afternoon teaching (we're not so much teachers as fighters, and what we teach is how to fight), then reversed the process. I then drove to the job (this is a busy, busy time of year), and ended up dragging my ass home around 1:30 AM Sunday.

Yeah, this time of year, I joke to my upstairs neighbor that I am the ghost who haunts the downstairs apartment. I'll try to post on a semi-regular basis, but the posts will be most likely be pretty short, perfunctory even.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Separated at Birth?

This post is inspired by a couple of recent posts by others.

I've always thought that CNN's Anderson Cooper looked a bit like a slightly less "butch" Race Bannon- just judge for yourself:

Another thing that Anderson Cooper and Race Bannon have in common is an ambiguous sexual identity. Not being a prude, I really don't care how these two "silver foxes" swing, but check out the looks that Race Bannon and Dr. Benton Quest exchange with each other in the Johnny Quest intro:

Once again, Warner Music Group demonstrates its sheer suckitude by disabling the audio track of the embedded video. The theme song, composed by Hoyt Curtain, is a stellar piece, and ranks high in the pantheon of television music.

Update: This guy beat me to the punch, and got a great pair of screencaps. Oddly enough, there are not a lot of search results for "Race Bannon" & "Anderson Cooper". Also, I am in a confessional mood, so I have to admit that I think that Secretary Sibellius has that "silver fox" thing going on.