Sunday, July 31, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen!

My brother, his wife, and their sons will be flying back to Zurich this evening. Today, we'll hang out at the Ancestral Homestead in the Bronx with an assortment of cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. I'm going to miss the family, but we had a great time together for the past two weeks. So, to all the fambly, Danke Schoen:

I, uh, have to confess that I used to think that Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and Danke Schoen were sung by the same person for a long, long time. I just learned that I was partially right, but the prospects of setting up a date on the telephone with a twenty-something Brenda Lee and having a twelve year old Wayne Newton answer the door would be quite the freakout...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

That Awkward Adolescent Phase

I almost tripped over this little critter before it took wing and perched on a nearby branch:

I didn't use the zoom on my 2 megapixel phone camera- the boid just sat on it's perch within three feet of my meaty paw. I don't know if it was too young to fear me, or too much of an aeronautical n00b to get the hell away. The spots on the breast of this American robin (Turdus migratorius) indicate that it is a juvenile. The American robin, not to be confused with the European robin (a variety of non-related birds share the name "robin" in the Anglophone world), is a thrush, so if you encounter one cracking snail shells while rock-climbing, look for secret doors in the cliff face.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm an Awful, Awful Person...

I didn't write anything about the demise of chanteuse and cautionary tale Amy Winehouse. I've always been a Winehouse agnostic, I think she was a talented singer who had the great good fortune of collaborating with a world-class backup band. If she hadn't shuffled off this mortal coil at such a young age, she would have descended inexorably into late-night punchline status. Since her death, her album sales have charted again, and her music is being played with regularity on the radio. Being an irreverent smartass, I've had a twisted little earworm crawling around inside the mazy confines of my brane all week:

They tried to make me grow a meat slab,
I said, "No, No, No."
Told me, "Make a clone, steak without a bone!"
"No, no, no!"

Yeah, I'm pretty much an awful, awful man.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forgive Me, Dear Readers

Having recently posted my 500th post, I see that there is a glaring, appalling lack of posts regarding The Buzzcocks, whose name (oddly enough) is not a not-so-thinly-veiled vibrator reference. The Buzzcocks had a huge influence on the English punk scene, and subsequent independent rock and power pop. Personally, my purchase of Singles Going Steady on vinyl (sigh) in an independent (sigh) record shop (sigh) while in high school was a milestone in my music consumption habits. I had my first exposure to punk and new wave while still in grammar school, having discovered the storied WLIR on a transistor radio I'd received as a birthday present. While I had a good grounding in the music, it wasn't until I discovered an eccentric record store that I was able to purchase a record like Singles Going Steady. The record opens with the hilarious Orgasm Addict and doesn't let up for its entire length (heh). Lead singer Pete Shelley's high-pitched vocals were tailor-made for conveying tales of romantic yearning, nascent sexual identity, uncertainty in relationships, and the giddiness of a new love. One of my favorite Buzzcocks' tunes (apparently, it's also Henry Rollins' favorite) is Harmony In My Head, which features guitarist Steve Diggle's growl instead of Pete Shelly's warble:

Crank the speakers up to the proverbial "11", people- this is pretty much the soundtrack for my not-necessarily misspent yute. It's amazing how well the music holds up- it's not just the rosy glow of nostalgia.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dead Zoo Part 2: Mesozoic Boogaloo

The visit to the American Museum of Natural History (is there an American Museum of Natural Hostelry?) kicked serious ass, like I knew it would. I renewed my membership, and had the pleasure of wandering the halls with some tiny tots. There's something magical about hearing a Very Small Boy rattle off such tongue-twisters as Pachycephalosaurus, Corythosaurus, and Protoceratops with nary a stumble. Dinosaur names are the child's arcana, a recondite body of wisdom largely forgotten by most adults (although some of us are in on the secret). Intone them, and the magical formula transports you to a more dramatic, more fascinating time, a time when the planet was just more thrilling. Wow, the little guys made me extremely proud.

The museum had a special exhibit on the sauropods, complete with interactive displays and a "dig pit"... sheer heaven! We spent a good amount of time wandering the fourth floor of the museum, one of my favorite places on earth. My absolute favorite fossil in the museum's collection is in the "Mammals and their Extinct Relatives" hall. It's the skeleton of the synapsid Cotylorhychus (which, hilariously, means "cup snout"). It's an ungainly, unlovely animal with an absurdly small head. How can you not love this big, dopey-looking brute?

The "finback" sharing the display case with my pathetic cup-snouted friend is Edaphosaurus, another distant relative of ours.

After we left the museum, my brother had to re-enter to make a "pit stop" and I was outside with the boys. The little guy started to fuss (he's a very good-natured fellow, but it was a long hot day that involved a lot of walking), and a lovely young lady made a fuss over him so he'd stop crying. I asked her where she was visiting from, and she told me that she was from Istanbul. She was a very nice, caring person, and all of her friends, ranging from teenagers to adult chaperones, were really a great bunch of people. She especially loved seeing the Statue of Liberty, and was planning on taking the group for a picnic lunch in Battery Park. I have to say, I fell in love with this young lady- to all the Islamophobes out there, I'd rather have her and her charming friends as neighbors than to live next to a bigot like Pammycakes. New York City's awesome- you can hang out, shooting the breeze with people from all over the planet, and some of them will even help you out with a little free baby-sitting

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Dead Zoo

I actually composed this post yesterday. Today, I'm heading down with my brother, Sweetums, and my nephews to one of my all-time favorite places on the planet, a zoo in which the majority of the animals are dead. Of course, I'm a big old dinosaur freak, always have been. The boys share my enthusiasm. In a previous post, I mentioned that I used to be pissed off that the Hall of Vertebrate Paleontology was named after one of the Koch brothers. I now think that it's an appropriate moniker- its a hall filled with the fossils of extinct animals, bearing the name of a fossil who made his money on fossil fuels, and who is doing his damnedest to back policies which are sure to hasten the currently on-going extinction event. What could be a more fitting tribute for the evil old coot?

Monday, July 25, 2011


It's the first day after the first same sex couples legally married in New York state. I'm putting up a quick post before heading out through the smoking ruins of civilization to make a last stand at the ancestral homestead in the Bronx. Hearing the rallying cry of the busybody:

I decided that I have to check up on the children grimly eking out an existence in the ruins of Gaytoplolis, formerly the thriving City of New York, specifically my nephews and (hopefully) my baby cousins. If he's there, I'm hoping on giving some swimming pointers to my cousin **REDACTED**'s younger son, the feisty **REDACTED**.

Wish me luck, the landscape is crawling with gangs of fabulously mutated gay bikers, and the background levels of gaydiation are causing my Gayger counter to "ping" in a most danceable manner.

NOTE: Checking the post, I noted a fortuitous typo- I typed "Gaytoplolis", instead of "Gaytopolis". Given the intent of this post, I think the typo is better than the intended coinage. Congrats to all of the couples who have gotten married, or are planning on doing so. It's about human rights, it's about everyone having the same shot at a little happiness, it's about time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

500th Post

Wow, it's post number five hundred for me. I was pretty much running neck and neck with Von, but I pulled ahead using such perfidious Albion ploys as 24 posts in 24 hours. I suggested to Von that she do a "what did we learn?" post for 500. I figured that my 500th post would be a reintroduction of myself, and an iteration of my reasons for blogging.

I would say that my two defining characteristics are smartassery and nerdliness. I am an unrepentent wisenheimer, and have been for years. While still in high school, my boss told me, "You're a real smartass!", to which I replied, "Better a smartass than a dumbass." I've tried to live by that credo ever since that day. I'm also a nerd- I was the sort of kid who usually had his nose in a book, who loved to turn over rocks to see what kind of cool critters lived underneath- I'm still basically a demented, precocious 8-year-old. I am into science fiction, math and chess- I'm not that into pop science fiction movies though (gots no T.V. machine), I'm more of a reader, and especially love the works of Jack Vance and Gene Wolfe. I'm also a sucker for classic "weird" pulps, even though I am oftimes appalled by the racialist content that often taints the stories.

Politically, I am unabashedly liberal, not the strawman "librul" of right-wing hacks. I believe in equal rights for women and minorities (so-called), and pretty much sussed out that the assumption that "white straight male" was some sort of "default setting" was nonsense pretty early. My family background is "multicultural"- Italian, Irish, Swiss and French, so I developed an interest in other cultures early on. I'm one of five children, so the house was always occupied by all sorts of friends. Mom pretty much had an "open door" policy- nobody was turned away due to race (which, to my anthropologically-oriented mind, is a social construct), creed, or sexual preference. I am interested in biology, and enjoy hiking and biking, so I'm an environmentalist by default. I believe in fair trade- I don't like to taste the blood of peasants in my coffee, and would rather own something made with pride by free laborers than made with poison by wage-slaves or prisoners. I also detest bullies and deplore idiots, so American Conservatism is pretty much a non-starter with me.

I'll cop to being an eccentric, and a bit of a cheapskate- I love foraging, and I have no desire to keep up with the hypothetical Joneses. I live in a working-and-middle-class neighborhood in a sizable city in the shadow of one of the greatest cities in the world... I'd call it a "most urban suburb". I have no desire to live in a community in which I'd catch grief for hanging a clothesline. For a year and a half, I was driving a car which cost half what my bicycle did.

While I can sometimes come across as angry, I'm generally even-keeled. I tend to get angry at the misfortunes of others, and laugh at my own setbacks (I have a friend who put it, "You're not happy unless you're getting your ass kicked!"). I tend to keep my temper very well- when you've spent quality time being pounded to the consistency of mincemeat by this guy, having some guy call you a "dickweed" is pretty tame by comparison. Once, while interviewing an insurance claimant, an attorney tried to rattle my cage by telling me that I "didn't know what I was doing, and was ignorant of the law". When I didn't get rattled after a good five minutes of this line of bullshit, he said, "You don't want to show it, but you're steamed!" I smiled at him and said, "I'm not mad, I'm billing this time... you can go on for as long as you want." Since he would receive a portion of any settlement, he shut up pretty quickly. Maintain an imperturbable mien- if you lose your temper, you lose control of the situation.

Why do I blog? Well, I enjoy writing... I have strong opinions, and I am happy to be able to express them. I also like the camaraderie- I enjoy the correspondence with my blogroll and my commentariat. I certainly hope I have entertained my readers... do I amuse you? Another thing I love about writing this blog is that I find that people from all over are reading my bloviations. If someone had told me a year ago that I have readers from Latvia, Iran, and the Philippines reading this blog, I wouldn't have believed it. It's really heartening.

I don't forsee ending this anytime soon. I love doing this, and I hope to do another little recap when I hit one thousand posts. Of course, I've been very, very lazy when it comes to labeling my posts- I may have to go back over my body of work and get cracking with the labels.

Thanks to all of my readers, you really are a wonderful bunch. I love the back-and-forth in the comments, and the insights I get from different viewpoints from really smart people. Without you, I'd just be yelling at clouds. Now, time for Von to catch up.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Simply Horrific

The news out of Norway is shocking and horrific. To compound matters, some the comments accompanying the Yahoo News article, citing a "Zionist conspiracy to disarm Europe" are the product of the same sort of delusions that probably drove the attacker to perpetrate these violent acts. The violence is senseless, no need to foment more violence. I have had 23 pageviews from Norwegian readers in the past month, if any of you read this, please convey to your fellow citizens the sincerest condolences a stranger can offer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who Ya Gonna Believe? Me or Your Lying Epidermis?

Or your dying livestock, or your failing crops, or your stricken relatives...

The odious Rush Limbaugh claimed that the heat index is a government plot by Al Gore to spread fear of global warming. Of course, intelligent human beings know that the heat index combines the temperature with the relative humidity because humans cope with excess heat by perspiring- the body cools down through the process of evaporative cooling. The more humid the air, the less evaporation takes place, so the less effective evaporative cooling is. Even the bone-stupid know that a "dry heat" (insert Aliens quote) is more bearable than a humid heat (as long as one has adequate hydration). I don't think Rush is an intelligent man- he succeeds by being marginally smarter than his dumbass listeners and by knowing how to play to their prejudices and spite.

Of course, the fact that the guy probably never goes outside, and lurches from air-conditioned home to air-conditioned limo to air-conditioned studio, allows him to pooh pooh the notion of the "heat index" that all those pointy-headed science guys and sociamalists and faggy-fag-fags prattle on about. I honestly don't know what to make of anyone who still listens to Limbaugh's stupid, patently dishonest bullshit in the face of such an obvious refutation by the planet itself.

It's hot here in the Northeast (100 degrees Fahrenheit, feels like 111, here in the City of Y______), but it's got nothing on the heat in the Heartland. The temperatures here are mitigated somewhat by the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. I'm lucky, I'm scheduled to work the graveyard shift for the next couple of days, so I won't have to deal with the dangerous daytime temperatures. I feel sorry for those who are working outside in this dangerous heat.

NOTE: I composed this entry in the early afternoon, but set it up for publishing in the early evening, when I hope to be doing a bit of the snoozation.

UPDATE: When L.A.'s most lovable curmudgeon writes a comment like this:

Temperate here, which is not standard for this time of year, 'though our big heats are usually in Aug. & Sept.

I have to scratch my glabrous pate and say to myself, "L.A.? Big Heat? Ah, yes, Stan Ridgway!"

Objectivist Morrissey Takes No Requests!

Luckily, I do. Blogroll member Truculent and Unreliable (she doesn't cop to being devious, but if she tells you that whitewashing her fence* is a heap of fun, be skeptical!) requested that I tackle Ask:

Kindness is vice, and kindness can stop you
From doing all the things in life you'd like to.

Kindness is vice, and kindness can stop you
From doing all the things in life you'd like to.

So if you're mooching, I'll say "Goodbye"
So if you're mooching, I'll say "Goodbye."
If you task me, I'll say, "Go, sod off and die!"

Sharing's a vice, and sharing will stop you
From grabbing all things that this world owes you.

So if you're mooching, I'll say "Goodbye"
So if you're mooching, I'll say "Goodbye."
If you task me, I'll say, "Go, sod off and die!"

Spending warm summer days indoors,
Writing godawful prose, to an angsty teenage misanthrope.

Task me, task me, task me!
Task me, task me, task me!

Here in this gulch...
It is our scorn, our scorn, our scorn, our scorn, our scorn, our scorn
Our scorn that will bring use together.

Reason is a virtue, so is greed.
Reason is a virtue, so is greed.

You task me, task me, task me!
Task me, task me, task me!

Here in this gulch...
It is our scorn, our scorn, our scorn, our scorn, our scorn, our scorn
Our scorn that will bring us together.

Here in this gulch,
It is our scorn,
It is our scorn
That will bring us together.

Task me! Task me! Task me!
Task me! Task me! Task me!
La la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la

Of course, this is a spoof of the single Ask, which was featured on the essential compilation Louder Than Bombs. The original single featured backing vocals by the late, lamented Kirsty MacColl. The song is a pure pop confection, it's uncharacteristic (for the Pope of Mope) chipperness tempered by the very real fear of Mutually Assured Destruction ("If it's not love, then it's The Bomb that will bring us together."). So, for your three minutes of Rand-free pop bliss, here's Ask:

As always, this is cross-posted at the new place.

*Heh, "whitewashing the fence"...

UPDATE: My great and good friends J-Co and Anak would disown me if I posted a song with the phrase "task me" without putting up this clip from Wrath of Khan:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kinda Like a Truck

Today marked the end of the space shuttle program. The space shuttle, like my love for you, but unlike the internet, was like a truck. Now, I'm not knocking the shuttle program- one radio pundit mentioned the critical role the shuttles played in the construction of the International Space Station and Hubble Telescope, and the advances made in orbital construction techniques, but the emphasis on the shuttle program has pretty much kept Homo sapiens from busting out of Earth's orbit. Of course, the untenanted probes and robotic rovers have been doing a yeomachine's job, but we have had nothing to compare to the Apollo Program in the last three decades.

Unfortunately, I really don't see a bright near-term future for NASA because our society is so messed up... our legislature is busy building a bridge to the 19th Century and well-funded organizations are trying to repeal reality. Still, I have to think that our sense of wonder hasn't been totally crushed, and that the species will get its shit together and will once again seek to land on another chunk of rock hurtling through the void.

Again, while I think that the shuttle program ultimately was a bit of developmental cul-de-sac, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't see an inherent coolness in space trucking:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tucker Carlson Was Always a Liberal!

How soon before the pundits claim that the Michele Bachmann migraine story was a hit piece by "The Far Left", even though it originated with Tucker Carlson's website? Yeah, the whole migraine story seems to be a disgusting attempt to undercut loose cannon Bachmann because she is overtaking GOP establishment candidate Mitt Romney.

Of course, Carlson's organization's attack on Bachmann will hamstring his attempts to woo the Tea Party contingent. Hopefully it will further fragment the right, and lead to infighting between the corporatists and the teabaggers. In the meantime, let's get one thing straight- Tucker's not a liberal, he never was... he's a trust fund baby who played at being a gadfly, but his true allegiances are revealed with his Bachmann hit piece. To those who want to shove his Conservative bona fides down the memory hole, CPAC attendance records say otherwise.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter Fanfic

I have to confess that I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, and haven't seen any of the movies (caught some of the first on teh t00b when I still had a T.V. machine). Still, I think I could write a decent bit of fanfic about some of the characters. See, we've got a young lady with curly tresses:

And we have a red-headed kid:

So, what would happen if they had a baby, and said baby was possessed by the spirit of an evil sorceror who was thought to have been destroyed?

OMG!!!! It's all real!! J.K. Rowling wasn't writing fiction after all:

Hell, she even has some sort of magic wand!

The Artist Also Known as Arky brings the funny, with his "Voldemurdoch" comment.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Heaven Knows I'm Writing Too Many Objectivist Morrissey Spoofs

Yeah, I just can't help it, the whole Objectivist Morrissey thing is like an addiction. The news is pretty interesting, but it's being dominated by two stories- the Newscorp scandal and the debt ceiling showdown, both ongoing sagas of a most sordid nature. Hell, time to do something goofy, time to spoof Ayn Rand and a Smiths song:

I was happy in the haze of polluting power,
But Greenspan knows I'm miserable now.
I was looking for a gulch, and didn't find a gulch,
And Greenspan knows I'm miserable now.

In my life, why do I give valuable time,
To people who think tax evasion is a crime?

Two union guys stand, with paychecks in hand,
Now Greenspan knows I'm miserable now.

In my life, why do smile,
At moochers who would steal me blind?

I was happy in the haze of polluting power,
But Greenspan knows I'm miserable now.

What Ayn asked of me at the end of the day,
Nathaniel would have blushed.
"You've been with that hag too long," she said,
"And I, I want her dead."

In my life, why do I give valuable time,
To people who think price-gouging's a crime?

A lesser effort, compared to This Randian Man, but one cannot bring one's "A" game every time.

Of course, the song is a spoof of Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now, but an Objectivist invoking heaven would not have been appropriate:

Cross-posted at the new place.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Space Travel's in My Blood

If you're looking for an underappreciated example of sheer, shredding guitar virtuosity, you need Another Girl, Another Planet, a late 70's scorcher from England's The Only Ones. Peter Perette's boyish vocal may not be to everyone's liking, but guitarist John Perry's lead work on the song crushes the competition. Crank the speakers to eleven, people:

Back in high school, I worked in the local deli, and my boss got this notion in his head that he would start lunch deliveries to local businesses. One of the offices in the vicinity was staffed by a bunch of cheapskates. These were the sort of people who wouldn't give enough of a tip to cover one's gas. The second time I pulled into their parking lot, this song was playing on the venerable, lamented WLIR, and I sat in the car in the parking lot until the song ended. Hell, those wankers could wait- their tip for the first delivery was so crappy. As it turned out, the delivery was for thirty-three dollars and some-odd cents, and they gave me thirty-four bucks and said, "Keep the change." It was actually insulting- it wasn't a tip per se, they were just too lazy to come up with exact change. I returned to the deli, and my boss asked, "So, did they give you a tip?"

"Rick," I replied, "They gave me the whole shaft." I put all of the money into the till, not stooping to pocket their pennies. To his credit, the boss discontinued the whole delivery thing after that.

The t00bz tell me that The Only Ones reformed in the noughts to capitalize on a revival of Another Girl, Another Planet due to its featuring in an ad. The song has been covered numerous times, but the only cover that matters is this one:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ain't Never Done No Caturday Before

Hmmm... I know that all the cool kids do this Caturday thing, but I'm not a cool guy anymore. How does this Caturday thing work?

This gorgeous little beastie, sitting in a shelf in the employees' lounge, is my co-worker Ginger, who you must love. I've always been partial to marmalade cats, but I'd describe Ginger more as a Creamsicle cat:

I particularly love this picture, taken in failing light with my 2.0 megapixel phone camera. It's perhaps the best picture I've ever taken with such a limited camera- it captures a particularly sweet moment in time, and the combination of color palette and subject matter is gorgeous:

Ginger's brother, Fred (what were you expecting? I didn't name the cats, personally I would have named them Mog and Mamog), also works with me. While he is a handsome, handsome beast, he's not as photogenic as his sister, because he always "muffs up" the shot:

These two are my constant companions. Fred, in particular, follows me around like a dog. One night, he stayed with me throughout a quarter-mile walk from one end of the site to the other. One of my co-workers, seeing my orange and white shadow, had to comment, "Man, that cat loves you."

Just to prove that I am not passing off one cat twice (with the judicious application of some orange hair dye), here's a picture of Fred and Ginger doing their best impression of The Gates:

Wow, my first Caturday... it was nice, but, somehow, I thought it would be more special.

NOTE: While I had been planning on posting these pictures of my feline friends for a while, the final motivation for posting them today was this awesome local cat story.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Give 'Im a Frickin' Laser!

It's a pity that the cute little cyclopean shark mutant was stillborn. Maybe the dead flesh of this little cutant can be revived using unholy necromancy, or given a semblance of animation by the addition of cybernetic implants. Either zombie mutant shark or mutant shark cyborg, slap a frickin' laser on the li'l sucker's forehead, right over it's hilariously huge ocular orb:

UPDATE: I just had a scary thought... maybe this recent rush of "cutant" stories is a plot by the nuclear power industry to make mutagens seem less threatening. Yeah, two-headed baby turtles and one-eyed shark fetii are cute, but what do you do when Fluffy gives birth to a litter of six-legged Pomeranians? Huh?

A Typical Member of the Family

My brother, Sweetums, told me a story about one of his sons that simultaneously cracked me up and swelled me up with pride. Yeah, his boys are typical members of the family.

Before packing the kids off to bed, my brother told them to put away the stuff that had be strewn all over the floor. In the interests of fair play, he divided up the labor by telling N. to pick up the blocks and the toy trains, and he told boy T. to pick up the books and the dinosaurs.

After the boys had been given their orders, he gave them some time to perform the task at hand. When he came back to inspect the room, he found a dime-store Dimetrodon on the floor. He told boy T., "You didn't pick up that Dimetrodon."

Boy T. responded, "You told me to pick up the dinosaurs, Dimetrodon isn't a dinosaur."

Yeah, the boy fits right in with the rest of the family.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Big Bro and Family Flying In Today

My elder brother, Sweetums, is flying into New York with his lovely wife and their beautiful children. I believe my elation at this is best summed up by the tender strains of the Ramone Family Singers:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You Wish It, I Dish It... the Objectivist Morrissey Madness Continues

In my last post, I noted that JScottG requested that I do Moocher in a Tutu. It would be safe to assume that he would have expected a play on the song Vicar in a Tutu (not to be confused with tuber in a vicar), but that's not how my muse rolls, baby! Here's my hastily written, compliant yet contrarian take on Moocher in a Tutu:

Moocher in a tutu, he is,
He is, a parasite.
Moocher in a tutu, he is,
He is, a parasite.

There are times when I want to murder him,
But the laws of the weak won't let me do him in.

Moocher in a tutu, he is,
He is, a parasite.
Moocher in a tutu, he is,
He is, a parasite.

Do you really think I'll go Galt?
Do you really think I'll go Galt?

Moocher in a tutu, he is,
He is, a parasite.
Guh-guh-guh-guh-guh-guh-gonna go Galt!

There were times that I could have murdered him,
But was stopped by the rules of the weak and the dim.
Would you please let me beat him?

Do you really think I'll go Galt?
Do you really think I'll go Galt
Let my whisper my last goodbyes,
"Go suck it, parasite!"

Of course, this is a parody of Girlfriend in a Coma, which I consider a bit of a lesser effort by The Smiths (it sorely lacks that pure pop jangle of Johnny Marr's guitar). Here's a video for the song, accompanied by images of one of my all-time favorite actresses, the incomparable Dejah Thoris Louise Brooks:

In a previous post, I embedded a video for Mojo Nixon's cover of Girlfriend in a Coma, which I actually prefer to the original. Now, if only, I say, if only Foghorn Leghorn had covered the Smiths, it would have been perfect.

Cross-posted at the new joint.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Objectivist Morrissey Strikes Again

Although Arky/Hunger Tallest Palin/Whatever 'nym Mr G. is using at this time requested Moocher in a Tutu as my next Objectivist Morrissey parody, the nature of inspiration is such that the following came to me in the course of a couple of minutes:

Moocher, moocher I was only joking when I said,
I didn't want you well and truly dead.
Moocher, moocher I was only joking when I said,
Your body shouldn't be filled up with hot lead.

And now I know how Howard Roark felt,
Now I know how Howard Roark felt
As the flames rose, past his upturned nose
As he razed where the moochers now dwelt.

Rand man, ooooohohohaha, Rand man, whoa ho ho ho,
Rand man strikes again,
You've got no right to shackle him,
With your worldview dim.

Of course, Bigmouth Strikes Again is an easy target- much of the song consists of "Ho's and Ha's and Whoa's and La's". That being said, The Fountainhead is an even easier target. Here's a video for Bigmouth Strikes Again, for those not familiar with the original:

Of course, this is cross-posted at the new place. Oddly enough, Morrissey is number three in Yahoo's "Trending Now" category today.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mom Turned Seventy Today

Today is my mother's 70th birthday. She's as healthy as a horse, extremely active, and looks twenty years younger than her age. She still works, but will be receiving her first Social Security check this month. I had a heart-to-heart with her on Saturday, and she mentioned that she is eligible for a retirement package if she leaves her job by 1 September. Like most Americans, she puts in long hours, and her workplace isn't the place it was when she started. American companies have figured out how to get blood from a turnip, and seem to enjoy running "stress" experiments.

I told her to take the offer- work shouldn't feel like a kick in the belly. She excels at her job, and has a lot of friends on the job, but she's paid her dues. I advised her to take the offer, and, should she feel bored, take a job no more than a ten minute drive from home, or to do volunteer work.

She's got quite a bit to mull over this summer, but I think she should give a "Sayanora, mofos!" to the workplace. Obviously, I'm going to give her a call later, and I wonder if she'll bring up the subject again. Sure, she'll miss certain things about the place, but she can always keep in touch with her friends, without the attendant nonsense so typical of the American workplace in this post-prosperity age.

So, happy birthday to mom, from her workplace "devil's advocate".

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Pathology of a Well-Tended Lawn

This being summer, yardwork is on a lot of homeowners' minds (for the record, I live in an apartment, so I haven't done yardwork in years). I never fail to be amazed at the time and expense which people devote to growing a useless, monoculture crop around their houses. The stereotypical, oft-mowed, well-watered American lawn is an imitation of the sheep-cropped, rain-soaked pastures surrounding the manors of the aristocrats of the green and pleasant land of our cultural forebears. We ape the overseas aristos the founders rebelled against, but we employ petroleum-fueled machines to replicate the grazing of animals, a process which transforms the indigestible grass into foodstuffs and textiles. You waste valuable resources to grow a plant which you don't use... hooray, suburbanites! Why don't you deep-six the lawnmowers and purchase sheep to maintain your lawns? That's a nation of sheep I could get behind (uh, this is not a reference to the slippery slope to beastly lovin' that Rick Santorum is obsessed with- honest). Yeah, I'm picturing a nation of sheep, to which we could delegate the whole lawn maintenance thing, not this sort of nation of sheep that a certain member of the blogroll sang about:

I am especially bemused by the suburban weekend squire's campaign to eradicate the simple dandelion. Let me get this straight- you are going to dump a bunch of chemicals on a place where your children play in order to kill an attractive, useful plant so you can grow a plant that is useless to you (unless you get yourself a ruminant that you plan to shear and milk periodically).

If I were ever to own a home with a yard, I'd probably devote a decent patch for a vegetable/herb garden (who am I kidding, I'd just let the weeds, but only the delicious ones, run riot). I'd also plant some wildlife-friendly perennials- friends don't let friends plant annuals (unless they're edible!). I'd also make sure to devote some space to a small bocce court. The well-maintained lawn? Not my style- that's the sort of thing that's appropriate for moist, green lands with large ovine populations.

I'm sure that climate-appropriate, environmentally-friendly landscaping is a trend that is becoming more prevalent, but it seems that devotion to the 19th century aristocratic land management patterns of a foreign land still seem to hold sway. With gasoline hovering around the $4/gallon mark, this may abruptly change.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Return of Objectivist Morrissey

In the course of my 24 posts in 24 hours push, I wrote a post speculating about how The Smiths would have sounded had Morrissey been a hardline Objectivist. This notion has been bouncing around my head for the past couple of weeks (chalk it up to being in a locale with no electricity). Put succinctly, I've had an earworm which was a song which had never been written, so I had to go ahead and finish the damn song:

Mooching parasites, and a tax rate burdensome,
The average working stiff is a bum
But in this hidden gulch, this Randian man.

Why be a slave to guilt and dread,
When the superman's path is the one that you tread?

I would go Galt tonight, but I haven't got a hidden lair.
Ayn Rand said, "It's gruesome, that such a producer should care."

A titan simply shrugs,
and drops the wicked world,
Leaves moochers to their fate,
'Cos greed is such a noble trait.
'Cos greed is such a noble trait.

I would go Galt tonight, but I haven't got a hidden lair.
Ayn Rand said, "It's gruesome, that such a producer should care."

This Randian man

A titan simply shrugs,
and drops the wicked world,
Leaves moochers to their fate,
'Cos greed is such a noble trait.
'Cos greed is such a noble trait.

Of course, for those unfamiliar with Monsieur Morrissey and The Smiths (get with the program, hippie! or get offa mah lawn! whatever the case may be), here's the tune that I dragged kicking and screaming into a dry gulch inhabited by sociopaths:

I ordinarily don't "bleg", but if anyone could "Photoshop" Morrissey's pompadour onto the dour visage of Ayn Rand, I'd totally have their babies.

UPDATE: I figured Objectivist Morrissey deserved his own blog- I'll cross post any entries here as well. I... uh... have more than just a couple of parodies in the pipeline.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Secret Science Club, Post Lecture Recap

Last night's Secret Science Club lecture featured Dr Partha Mitra of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, speaking about his inquiries into the architecture of the brain.

Architecture? Brains? Sounds like this post should be on another blog. Enough of my joking, here's a brief summary of Dr Mitra's talk, with a couple of smartass asides...

Much of the brain's functions deal with the analysis of sensory information, and with locomotion, both crucial to survival and successful reproduction. In an extreme illustration of the "brain's" role, when a free-swimming larval sea squirt settles into a sessile adulthood, it's cerebral ganglion atrophies.

While single neuron analysis is very good, the analysis of the brain as a whole has been inadequate. The "brainscape", the architecture of the mass of neurons in your skull is largely terra incognita. One theoretical model for the brain is the "chemical soup" model, which emphasizes the importance of neurotransmitters. The "place theory" point of view stresses anatomical features of the brain. Neither approach is fully adequate to an understanding of the workings of the brain.

While studying the brain, any analogous structures resulting from convergent evolution would point to adaptive significance of said structures.

Mice are the typical laboratory subjects in mammalian brain studies- the Allen Brain Atlas has a plethora of information regarding the mouse brains (though, oddly enough, no studies have been made of the brains of evil supergenius mice).

Dr Mitra is also involved in an arts project, producing sculptures inspired by the structure of the brain.

After the lecture, some bastard in the audience raised the issue of plasticity in the brain. While the underlying "architechture" of the brain is important, there is some degree of plasticity.

All told, while we have come a long way from the glory days of phrenology, there's a lot of work needed before the architechture of the brain is well understood. Dr Mitra indicated that this had been a hot topic back in the 70's but had largely been "shelved". Here's wishing him well in his endeavors- without understanding the structure of the brain, how could we possibly be able to surgically remove it for travels throughout space?

News, Out of this World

So, the odious Rupert Murdoch's News of the World is going to be discontinued due to outrage over illegal hacking of private citizens' phones. Any diminution of Rupert's Reach is to be celebrated, as is any excuse to post a video by The Jam:

I'd be remiss if I didn't link to a poem about Paul Weller by the Antipodes' most dreamboaty poet.

In the face of Obama's caving in to the GOP on budget cuts, how about another Jam song (perhaps my favorite)?

Scary how topical this song is:

You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies wash you down and their promises rust

The Jam had a remarkable ability to perform heartbreaking songs which absolutely rocked... rave ups for the run down. The compilation Snap! is an essential document of the late 20th Century. Buy it, blast it! You'll have tears streaming down your cheeks even as you shake your boo-tay.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

After a Rural Sojourn: Work, Work, Work

I'm putting up a perfunctory post because I am catching up with current events after spending time in the woods and, upon my return to urbanity, working a major fundraising event on the job. I'll have to

The event went well, although it pretty much occupied the entire long weekend. I had a good time, though I spent quite a bit of time running around in an attempt at bilocation after the public left the vicinity, and "i's" needed to be dotted and "t's" crossed.

I did have a run-in with a none-too-bright local freelancer. I knew she'd be a pain in the ass when I saw her in the company of another loopy "journalist" who wasted a lot of people's time after an autumn fundraiser by losing her Blackberry outside, in the dark, in a crowded location, and then pitifully beseeching anyone within earshot to help her look for it (outside, in the dark, in a formerly crowded location, at the end of a long workday- yeah, I've got a gajillion things to do in the course of an eleven hour endurance tour, but I'll help you look for a needle in a haystack). After the event, this individual came to me looking for a soundbite or blurb:

N.T.B.L.F.: "What is the significance of this event?"
B.B.B.B.: "I'm not authorized to make a statement for the organization, you need to talk to the public relations department."
N.T.B.L.F.: "...But the event, why did you choose to do it?"
B.B.B.B.: "I'm not authorized to make a statement for the organization, you need to talk to the public relations department. One of our P.R. reps will be here tomorrow."
N.T.B.L.F.: "I need to finish the story by tomorrow afternoon."

In other words, she wanted me to possibly put my extremely-cushy-except-when-it's-not job in jeopardy because she didn't do her own job properly. Hello, you got a press pass, didn't you call ahead to contact an appropriate representative of the organization? The first time she asked me to give a statement was okay, the second time, she asked, it was annoying, the third time was downright offensive. I enjoy a cordial, yet distant, relationship with the main office- I show up, do what I have to do, and avoid calling negative attention to myself by making unauthorized statements to the press. Part of me wanted to say, "Numbskull, the significance of the event is that we need money to maintain operations- it's a fundraiser!" I could very easily have given her a lofty statement about the event, and it's possible inspiration, but doing so would have been a gross presumption of authority I don't have. To cut her inquiries short without telling her to piss off, I mentioned that a possible inspiration for the event could be found in a nearby location, informed her of a feature of the landscape which suggested the event, and tersely told her that I had a half-dozen tasks I needed to perform pronto.

On a happier note, after the end of the fundraiser yesterday evening, I had to perform a couple of tasks that took me to a portion of the grounds which gave a good vantage of the local fireworks display. If I lingered over these tasks for a good long while, I think I can justify my actions... I didn't want to perform them hastily, thereby botching the job.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Last year, I posted the video for X's remarkable Fourth of July, a song which I will doubtlessly blast several times over the course of the day (before heading off to work the big summer fundraising event). The song still resonates, with it's tale of a couple trying to get through a rough patch. This year, I'm posting a jittery number by England's Comsat Angels, a band I really don't know a lot about. While the music of the Comsat Angels sounds nothing like the roots-rock that X specialized in, both bands would have been lumped into the "New Wave" or "Post Punk" categories. Any charting of hits by the bands would have been in the "College" charts. That being said, here's a song which sounds almost entirely unlike anything X ever recorded:

Happy Independence Day to all U.S. readers, and a healthy, enjoyable July 4th to all of my readers outside the States.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

Passed just in time for mid-July, missing the 4th of July completely, the New York legislature has lifted the ban on certain forms of fireworks. I am not a fan of amateur fireworks displays- leave the pyrotechnics to the trained professionals, people (a couple of years ago, I had the great good fortune to work an event which featured fireworks, and the pyrotechnics crew was an awesome bunch of fellows). Of course, the local fire department is also on hand whenever there's a sanctioned fireworks display, thus mitigating the potential dangers of wildfires.

A few years back (I've worked on July 4th for the past four years), I was at a friend of a friend's house for a Fourth of July party. The host had loaded up on a metric shitton of illegal fireworks, and was going to put on a display. His hard-drinking (she's the one who fell into the pool) cousin's even harder-drinking boyfriend was in the basement of the house, looking over the fireworks selection, cigarette dangling from his mouth...

Seeing this, the host yelled at him, "What the hell are you doing smoking?"
The drunkard's reply, "What the hell? You smoke in the house!"

At that, I went outside, and made sure I was ensconced in the farthest corner of the yard.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day

I want to take an opportunity to wish all Canadian readers and the shockingly high number of Canadians on the bog-roll a very happy Canada Day. I don't know how Canada Day is typically celebrated, but I imagine it involves a lot of maple syrup, poutine, rye whisky, and socialized medicine. It's too bad I had to return to the job today, because I was in one of the most Canadesque states in the union, and could have been standing in the shadow of the Chateau du Frontenac, guzzling bloody Caesars after a few hours' drive. Sigh... my misfortune was being born beautiful instead of rich.

Enough of my smartassery- happy Canada Day to all my Canuckistani peeps (peops?).

Bastard's Back

I've returned from my brief sojourn in the north woods, and will be blogging about the trip (with pics) in the near future. The next couple of days will probably be nuts (big summer fundraising event this weekend), so my posts will most likely be pretty perfunctory. Suffice it to say, Maine was gorgeous, but my time was largely occupied with the work that needed to be done to open camp for the season.

I traveled up with my dad's sister and one of his brothers, and we arrived at camp around 7:30PM. With about an hour of daylight left, we had to open the camp, give it an intitial sweeping-out, and move our stuff into the cabin. The rest of the week was spent working- cutting vegetation by the grey-water leaching field, registering the boat, and getting it in the water. I was able to take a couple of jaunts in the kayak, and spent a good amount of time swimming (bathtime involves jumping into the lake with a bar of Ivory soap).

I took Thunder's advice, and took some pictures, so I'll be posting about the trip as soon as I get through the sheer madness of this coming weekend.