Saturday, April 08, 2017

Shakespeare Never Did This

A couple of things.  Lately I've been working on some artwork.  The local gallery in town has a new show that is opening tonight called Pretty Ugly.  I entered three pieces, which I thought were all pretty good, however, the judges just picked one.  I guess I should feel honored, and I do somewhat.  But at the same time, I'm a bit disillusioned.  Is this really how artist get started?  Somehow I don't think so, and I think about it like I do a lot of other things that deals with artistic endeavors with the exception of perhaps writing.  Location helps.  Location might even be twenty-five per cent of it unless you're a writer.  These days you can just about live anywhere and submit your writing to a publisher.   With visual art though it really would be better to live in a big city with more galleries.  However, from what I've seen, the process of getting shown in a gallery looks to be the same, which astounds me to a degree.

I know this is going to sound like sour grapes, but I shall continue.   At any rate, I guess I should be grateful that this small town I live in pop. 94,000 even has an art gallery.  Even though 94,000 sounds like a fairly mid-sized town (at least for Texas it is), it seems like the mentality is more around a town of 24,000 or more ie. small-town minded.  Anyway it's Texas, what can I say.  At any rate, I digress.  But from what I've seen with these art solicitations calling on artist to submit their art work, what happens is you pay an entrance fee up front to do that.  Here locally it's not too expensive, just twenty bucks.  Other towns do the same thing.  Twenty bucks here, thirty there, etc.  In a lot of ways it's very similar to the way one submits poetry for publication.

Poetry magazines call on writers for submissions of their poetry, and generally they'll allow the writer to submit up to three of their poems, and they'll judge whether they want to use them in their publication.  Sometimes they may have a theme that they want the poetry to fit into.  However, they want twenty or thirty or whatever amount of money so that it helps to pay for the judges to read the poems or view the art work, and it also helps to sponsor the events as well.  Defray cost.  The upshot of the poetry submissions is that you might get picked, or you might not. 

The same thing applies for visual art.  With poetry however, they don't pay you (generally) for your submissions, they'll send you a copy of the publication that your poem was published in.  I guess that's something.  Sometimes they may send you multiple copies of books, and I guess, that all can go on your resume.  The same is true for entering a gallery show, except, getting a piece of artwork accepted just allows you to show and potentially sell your artwork there.  If it sells good, but then the gallery also gets a commission.  Here it's 20%.  And if not, it can go on your resume.  Have you ever heard the term starving artist?  Therein lies the rub, or a bit of my frustration.  

So up front, the artist buys his materials, which is costly these days.  Pays $20. or more just to be judged to show in the gallery, and then charged a percentage if it sells, which all varies depending on the gallery.  What I'm saying is it gets can get costly quick, and that's even if you sell a painting or whatever.  And people wonder why art is so high priced?   No less the time, the energy, and effort. 
At any rate, above is the artwork I submitted, and that was selected for this recent show.  It's called Tempus Fugit.  (That's Fugit, not Fug it.)  I think it came out pretty well, and was happy with the results.  Below are the other two pieces that were not accepted.
I was fairly pleased with both of them too, but they were rejected for whatever reason.  Actually the bottom one, which I titled Roots to Branches, might be the one that more closely echoes the theme of the show, Pretty Ugly.  That theme is a bit misleading initially.  I had a different take on it as well, until I read further about it and saw some examples.  The term Pretty Ugly was further defined by the aesthetics of a philosophy known as Wabi-Sabi.  To my understanding of that philosophy it's a more minimal approach, one that allows some of the mistakes or accidents to exist in the work or it might just be the subject matter like flowers that are transient by nature.  Here's a further link if you'd like to explore other artwork that is exemplified by that aesthetic.   Actually, I think the floral impressionistic artwork above it also closely fits that criteria as well, but what do I know...  Plus I'm not the judges either.  Therein lies the rub...

A point of contention for me though occurred at the last show.  The theme of that show was, Things With Wings.  So I'll let your imagination dictate what that means.  But for me, I thought of several subjects from the obvious, like birds, to angels, and butterflies, but also dragons, gargoyles, to even a pig with wings, or vampires, super heroes, and so forth.  I enter two pieces, one an abstract acrylic painting about birds (which was accepted), and the other a watercolor of a marsh with birds in the background sky.  Granted the birds aren't the main focus of the painting, but there are birds overhead in it.
 I was fairly pleased with it as it was maybe the second watercolor painting I'd ever done, and it came out pretty decent.  But they rejected it.  No biggie really.  But...  I attended the opening of the show, and there was a lot of well-made art there.  I'm always a bit surprised that even though this area of Texas is made up of a lot of smaller type towns, the art scene and the artist here are pretty good.  Some very good.

But my point of contention was one person had entered several photographs.  One of them was of jets planes, but one was a colorful photograph of leaves from a tree that had fallen on the ground.  It was colorful, pretty, well composed, but how do leaves have wings?   Yes, they tumble to the ground from gravity, and sometimes drift in the air carried up to the heavens by the breeze or air currents, and sail through the air hither and yon.  But wings?  I rest my case.
I ran across a couple of things over the past few weeks while doing artwork and other things.  One is a nice lecture on Joe Kubert.  Joe Kubert is a comic book artist that created many characters, and sometime back in the 80s created one of the first schools specifically catering to comic artist.  I'd known about Kubert since childhood as I bought some of his Sgt. Rock comics along with Easy and Company, G. I. Combat, The Haunted Tank, and some others.  For whatever reason his artwork always had a certain gravity and grit to it, and actually conveyed how I thought war should have looked.  I'll also say, I wish I could draw even an inkling that well or as well as some of my other favorite comic artist.  Those guys are pros and don't get much respect.  A very underappreciated field and ghettoize by many academics (snobs really) who think of themselves above looking at comics or think that comics have no value.

This also goes back and relates to some of the art world.  For some time I've been looking at what is sometimes termed fine art.  And I'll admit it's broad within that scope--anything from abstract, to surreal, to representational, plus any combination thereof.  But once you start looking at that stuff there's a blur.  Don't get me wrong, I love some of that abstract expressionist action painting style, but I think it's over done.  I don't have too many qualms about the originators, although I find some pretension there as well.  But it does seem like there are a bunch of imitators as well, and I'll admit I'm one too so I can't throw stones.  I guess it all boils down to ones taste. I've seen the reversal of that from comic book artist I have know as well.  They can sometimes look down their noses at a lot of the fine artist like de Kooning or whoever.   So I guess it swings both ways.

At any rate, I'm rambling.  I found this cool lecture on Joe Kubert on Youtube.  If you enjoy comic artwork or Kubert check it out.  I found it pretty absorbing.
The lecture takes a minute or so to get going, but once Arlen Schumer delves into Kubert's career it really got interesting for me.
Sticking with the topic of comics, I ran into a pretty cool one recently called  Symmetry by Matt Hawkins with artwork by Raffael Ienco.  It's a science fiction comic about a utopian society in the future where something happens and upsets the current world and allows some of the citizens in that world to peer out and see what the real world is really like.  If you'll go over to Amazon, there's a free preview of several pages of the comic and story.  One of the first things you'll notice--at least I did, was the art work.  When I saw it I went Wow!  It is really that good.  The story from that free preview drew me right in.  It sort of reminds me a bit of something like Logan's Run or some other SF tale where on the surface all looks great, but underneath it all things get a bit darker, and once examined, it's not all that great.  But it has some AI robots in it which I loved, and other neat tropes taken from SF.    Also in that Amazon preview you'll notice that they give you some of the notes in the back of the first collected book by Matt Hawkins.  He talks a bit about his creative process, where he came up with the concept for the story, and his take on that world.  I found that all really interesting as well.  Smart guy.  You can find his blog here too, by the way:

Oh, here's one more thing.  Sometime back I picked up a collection of The Best of Philip K. Dick stories recently on Ballantine Del Rey press with a forward by John Brunner.  I started reading a few of them just on a lark.  I don't always click with Dick (ok that sounds a bit funny).  Anyway the first two short stories I read were Beyond Lies the Wub and the other, Roog.  They were two of his earliest stories he'd written and published.  They were pretty good, but with Roog I didn't totally get it.  I thought I got enough of it to figure out what was going on, but I felt like I was missing something.  Do you ever feel that way with a story or movie?  Sometimes I don't know if it's just me or the creator.  So I when I got up this morning I went to the web.  Evidently I feel better now as when I went to Wikipedia I found out it just wasn't my lack of understanding.  It really wasn't written clear enough--I'll put it that way.   By the way while looking for something on the Roog story I found a place you can read it free online, along with several of his other short stories.  So if you are curious about it; read it first here.  Then if you feel the same way you can read the Wikipedia page as well.    You can also go here to for a little more insight about the story Roog.  It's a 1971 interview with P K Dick. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


I thought I had posted about this podcast once before, but I'm not finding it easily accessible with a search, so I'll post it again with the title, Probes.  It bears repeating anyway, if you are an adventurous music listener or care about the history of music. 

When I was younger my mother made me take piano lessons.  Her heart and thinking were in the right place, but I just wasn't a very good student.  I didn't care about practicing, and wanted to be outside playing tag, riding the bike, or whatever else with my brother.  But I wish I had been more studious back then.  I still remember my piano teacher's name, however, Mrs. Brown.  I remember at times she'd also be cooking and sometimes whatever she'd be cooking (or her husband) would come whiffing from beyond the other room.  Sometimes it would smell good, but sometimes odd to me.  I don't know what it was they were eating that day, smelled like maybe liver and onions, something strong like that or fish or cabbage, but it filled the house with odor. 

At any rate, I stuck with piano until I hit sharps and flats.  I couldn't get the hang of that.  Sharps and flats are the black keys on the piano.  They are the half steps in tones when either written or played.  The piano and all music has the same language or is composed of notes A thru G, then it repeats that into the next octave (8 notes), either higher or lower, A thru G.  But thrown in the sharps and flats and you get A then A sharp, then B and then B sharp.  Sharp being written as a # on the page, if memory serves.  At any rate, either she didn't explain that well enough to me, or I didn't get it, or I just wasn't a very good student, I sort of missed the boat there.  Soon afterwards, I asked my mother if I could drop the lessons.  My sister on the other hand continued, and is still playing well at the church today. 

I wish I had stuck with it though as I love music so much.  I wish I had taken band as an elective in high school too although I don't know what I would have wanted to play, but I did take choir.  If one could go back in time, I would have taken art appreciation all thru those years as well.  I would have been a full-on bohemian art geek. 
At any rate, Probes.  Probes is a music podcast hosted by Chris Cutler, who used to play drums in the RIO (rock in opposition) avant-prog group, Henry Cow, Pere Ubu, Art Bears, among probably some other bands.  Henry Cow were a fantastic band that combined rock, free jazz, classical and avant garde into an unmistakably unique combination.  But Henry Cow were extremely unconventional, and made music that didn't conform to any laws, and were therefore an island to themselves. Of course the Cow unleashed Fred Frith and Chris Cutler into the world, two of the major innovators in new music to this very day.   Frith is still releasing and playing solo and with other bands, however, I'm not real sure what Cutler is doing musically these days, but he has been doing this Probes podcast, which has been very interesting.

The Wire magazine had a write-up on the program as did Dangerous Minds on the web.   For whatever reason, whoever put the podcast together didn't do it in a very organized manner, and I wish they had.  It sure would have made it easier to access.  Cutler goes through the history of modern music, focusing on the rejection of tonality, how our ears have adapted to understand dissonance and "noise" as music, and how sound recording has altered how music is composed. But this short summary doesn't do it justice.   I really can't recommend this podcast enough. Every episode has been fascinating, with mind blowing, enlightening moments. Each episode also has a separate side episode of just the music. Probes is like a college level music history/appreciation course for hipsters. 

To begin the program, you can start with the first podcast here.  And then Probe 1.2 is just the music only.  It follows that path,  Probe 2 is the musical discussion (along with music), and Probe 2.2 is the music only.  With this link you can find out thru the transcript who was being played and talked about in each episode.  For the transcript you'll have to put your mouse and highlight the transcript link:  Probes #1 Transcript, then scroll back up to the top of the page and you'll see a little PDF box.  Then click on that box for the full transcript of the series.   Like I said, it's a little confusing to navigate, but once you get the hang of it, it's worth it. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Space Family Robinson (piggyback)

Just a shorty here today.  I occasionally still watch Lost in Space on the Me TV Network.  It comes on pretty late now on Saturday nights after Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, but used to show at a legitimate hour.  Most of them are too corny for my taste, but as a youngster I used to love them.  The comic books are a different animal.  Some blogger looks like he scanned his own collection for others (me) to read, so I thought I'd others his link in case they were interested too. 

Yes, this Space Family Robinson actually predated Lost In Space, but a legal settlement allowed Irwin Allen to use the name in his TV show and for the comic book to use the name of the TV show. 
The first issue (picture above), is from 1962, three years before Irwin Allen's series premiered.

I'm fixing to run by the library to look for some used books.  They'd gotten in a bunch of SF, plus I wanted to check out some of their larger books for color photos to use for collage material.  So I'm outta here. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Those Were The Days

I bought a Betamax too.  I bought the Toshiba model.  I was excited, and ready to start taping.  I remember I bought it at a department store called Ardan, which is now defunct.  The player itself was rather huge and bulky, but it would fit inside my stereo case where I had my stereo amp and cassette deck.  I could also hook it up through my receiver, so that I could hear it in stereo.  It really boosted the appeal of watching movies that way.  At the time we had either Showtime or HBO, and I collected many movies during that time frame.  I'm not sure what I first taped.  It was probably some type of science fiction.  Like the guy above in the video, I did most of my taping off the cable.  I rarely bought actual Hollywood-made tapes as they were more expensive.  Sometimes a lot more expensive.  I still have an old Movies Unlimited video catalog from 1991.  Don't ask me why I have hung onto it.  But in it most of the Hollywood-made movies sell for around $19.99 a pop, but some go for as high as $89.99, which sounds crazy now.  A lot of the more foreign or esoteric art films like Ingmar Bergman are around $30., but I see Pelle the Conqueror is $89.99.  Just thumbing through the catalog there's also a Roberto Rossellini movie, The Age of Medici (1972), which is basically a documentary on Florentine art, tracing the history through the lives of the famed Renaissance merchant family.   It retails for $129.99.  Just for that one VHS tape!

Later on I did buy a few factory made tapes, but that was when you could find a lot more discounted at Blockbuster near the end days of the VHS industry.  Of course, I eventually had to dump them all as my Beta machine stopped working and Betamax was taken over by VHS. 

I remember going into video stores back in those days, and the stores would be set up or divided with VHS tapes and then Beta.  Sometimes you'd have a rack with Raiders of the Lost Ark with the Beta and VHS displayed more or less side by side.  I should have been tipped off then that VHS was going to take over as there were always more VHS tapes available.   The reason I chose Beta was that I'd read it was a bit wider tape so they got better picture and sound quality, and that's basically true.  By the way, I also bought into Quadraphonic as well back in the day. (If any of you are old enough to remember that audiophile phenomena.)  You had to buy a Quadraphonic amp, which I bought, then a turntable with a Quadraphonic stylus, check.  Then you'd buy the Quadraphonic albums which were more expensive, AND have an extra set of speakers.  Check, check, boom--that craze went belly up pretty quickly.   (Oddly enough with the home movie sound systems, the craze came back, just in a different reconfigured style.)

I remember the first time I was introduced to DVDs.  I had a friend named David, and he was really into collecting things of all sorts: comics, African mask, books, walking canes, and eventually movies among other things.  I think that's one of the things that solidified our friendship, the collector mentality.  I enjoyed comics as well among books, music, and what have you.   At any rate, he gotten a large screen TV, this was before digital flat screens, and a DVD player.  He invited me over to his apartment and we watched the movie, Trainspotting.  Aside from it being a good movie, I was amazed at the picture quality.  It was unbelievable.  I didn't run out and buy a DVD player immediately, but in the back of my mind it was on the agenda.

Eventually I did buy a DVD player.  I can't even remember the first DVD I bought.  It may have been some Woody Allen or maybe something like 2001: A Space Odyssey.  You'd think I would remember something like that, but it's just too far back in history for me, and I've bought countless more DVDs since that day.   I've not yet bought into Blu-ray.  It's probably on the horizon for sure.  My current machine is a Sony, one of those combo VHS-DVD player things.  The DVD player in it still works good, but the VHS works a bit wonky, and really since Suddenlink (our cable provider here) switched over to this new bogus system, heck I can't tape anything anyway.  Sometimes technological advancement suck in that way, but I'm not going back to Betamax anytime soon. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


HI-YAH! is the sound of mayhem – of flying fists and roundhouse kicks, ninja stars and fighting sticks.  Cowboy Bebop isn't exactly that way, although it can be kinetic, and neither is its sister anime, Samurai Champloo.  Although they create these interesting impressions with some pretty gorgeous art too boot.  Cowboy Bebop also is a noted anime for injecting quite a bit of jazz into their mix.  A friend of mine last night gave me a link to an interesting mix of, I think it's triphop or hiphop.  I don't know, but it has a nice vibe, and pretty mellow so you can do task while listening to it.  Check it out.
There some other mixes over there on YT if you follow the above video.  The one I was listening to last night, but for whatever reason I can't find, can be found here.  There are some other parts as well, if you want o hear even more.  

Friday, March 03, 2017

SF Ambience

Short post.  42 hours of ambient noise.  Sometimes ambient music, new age music, acoustic-electro music where you just hear a babbling brook can relax me.  Add a touch of music to that or some white noise, and it's a pretty good way to decompress at the end of a day.

Did you ever watch Star Trek: Next Gen and you'd hear the sound of the engines, and you look out the windows of the ship as the cosmos passes by as some of the main dialogue went on in the foreground?  I always tuned into that.  Well, I guess that's this is all about.  Go here.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Busy Week

Last week along with the weekend got busy, and next week may get that way too, but I guess that's life.  On Thursday I had a tree fall on the electric line running into my house.  It's also has other lines that run parallel that have the cable and phone lines, so I need those lines up and running.  Thankfully it didn't break the lines or cause the pole to fall over.  Such is the life living in the country.  When my dad had this house built he probably didn't foresee such problems or that one of his kids would be living here years later.   The other thing that came up is that my truck needs a new battery.  I took it to AutoZone yesterday, but the guy helping me saw where one of the battery cables had some corrosion on it, and he said they weren't allowed to mess with them in that condition as, I guess, they could break the connection--company policy type thing.  So, I came home, cleaned off the cable, and thought I'd look around on the computer first for auto battery deals.  Looks like Walmart might be my best bet, and I'll get an oil change too.

Tuesday, I've got an electrician coming over to give me a bid on laying the electric cable underground.  I don't know all the ramifications of that.  I know they do that in larger cities and urban neighborhoods, but that's about it.  I don't know how much it'll cost, but I thought I better look into it, as there are many tall trees behind the house.  It's either that, or clear the land of more trees, or move.  At least I'll get more knowledge from the electric contractor, and go from there.

I ran into a podcast today on the Japanese anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion.  Some may be familiar with this series, so I thought they might be interested in listening to the podcast.  I listened to the introductory podcast where the poster talks about growing up living in Chicago and first watching anime.  His voice was pleasant enough and he seemed seemed knowledgeable enough to offer some good insight.  I went over to his Facebook page and left a comment on how I enjoyed listening to his podcast.  If you've never seen the animation of Evangelion, you can probably still find episodes on Youtube, and if not there just do a Google.  I'm sure they're still around.  It's an anime that's about these young people that suit-up in these giant robot armor to combat super large aliens known as Angels.  Over the run of the anime, the characters change and grow, and it's all done rather well.  Here's a link to that podcast if you would like to hear them. 

The guy that does the Evangelion podcast also recommended a Godzilla podcast as well.  That one I haven't heard yet, but bookmarked it for a future listen.   If kaiju and the Big G is more your thing, you can listen to those here.

Last night while waiting on the Dr. Who episode to air on our PBS network, I was watching a few things off Roku.  On the Crackle channel I saw where they had some anime of a couple of Marvel characters.  They didn't have the full runs, just the initial first episodes, which is a shame, but at least I could watch those.  The best one of the bunch for me was Blade.
You're probably already familiar with Blade from the Westley Snipes pictures from some years back.  He plays a half human, half vampire that is a vampire hunter.  I enjoyed those well enough, but there were aspects of the overall feel of them at the same time that were a bit of a turnoff for me.  I think most of that came from the bloated "I'm a badass" feel of the show.  It was too much of an archetype for my taste, but for what it was they were okay.   At any rate, I still think it's a pretty good story just not handled as well as it could have been.  The anime Blade though seemed well made or struck me as being better and well suited for the anime experience, granted I've only watched the first episode.  Marvel - Japan made four of these type animes:  Blade, X-Men, Wolverine, and Iron Man.  If interested you can find clips and some of the episodes on Youtube.  I'm sure you can find them online as well with a little searching.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Expanse, Lynch, and Star Wars

Yesterday I got out and finally, finally made it to the gym.  It always feels pretty good afterwards, both mentally and physically.  I wish I could be more habitual about it, and it's something I've been striving to do for no other reason than just to feel good.  But if I can lose a few pounds that's a plus.  When I got home I made supper, and waited for The Expanse to show later.  I'll never understand the Syfy Channel.  The people running it aren't very insightful  most of the time.  I'm not sure when there was this turnaround, but they had a good thing going when they first started up back in the 80s, and it's like they got new CEOs or managers and their forward thinking went out the window.

They pretty much have a hit show going with The Expanse, and I think I like this season better than the first season.  Some of that might be due to I already know most of the main characters this season, the main premise of the show,  so now they just have to do is build stories around them.  This season they've discovered *SPOILERS* something called a protomolecule--I started to say protoculture (Robotech).   I don't think I'm giving away too much just by mentioning that.  I won't spoil it any further.    At any rate, I think they should mimic what AMC does with their hit show, The Walking Dead, and repeat it on the same night as well.  That's not that big a deal, but they could re-boadcast it more than what they do.

During tonight episode there were a few things I was curious about and I thought, this show could really use something else like The Walking Dead, and that's the Talking Dead that follows afterwards.  They could call it The Talking Expanse (or something similar), and use it to talk about some of the things that went on during that episode that may escape the fan's knowledge about the nuts and bolts of the show.  They could even have SF authors, scientist or whoever on to talk about different aspects of the show, etc.  It would really appeal to fans of the show.  Something like that should be very inexpensive to produce I would think and help promote it as well.  It's basically a talk show, and people are sitting around on a sofa talking.

While on the topic I don't know what they don't bring back SciFi Buzz.  That used to be a showcase for up and coming things in the world of SF, horror, and fantasy.  They talked about new conventions  happening around the country, new SF books and authors, gaming, artwork and props used on different shows, etc.  It was kind of set up like a format similar to the old Starlog magazines.  I always looked forward to those little thirty minute programs.  Surely those can't be that expensive to produce either.  Sure would beat Sharknado. 

Tonight's episode of The Expanse, Home, showed the crew of the Rocinante  going into something like a hyper drive to catch a large asteroid (Eros), and before they go full throttle, they were injected with some form of fluid to (I'm guessing) aid against the thrust of gravity against their bodies as they shot thru space.  That was just one of the things that didn't make sense to me.  At any rate Home was a pretty good episode.

So The Expanse has been pretty good this season.  I hope they can continue the show.  Also today, I ran across an interview with David Lynch over on the Film Threat site.  They have a new Twin Peaks series, and to be honest I've not heard much about it.  I assume it's on another paid network, so I won't be able to watch it until it's on DVD anyway.  At any rate, here's that interview.  

I ran across a couple of really cool Star Wars documentaries yesterday as well.  They play out like the regular movies do, but they inject dialogue over them, and insert special effect into the movie as well, so you get a real feel for how some of the scenes were created.  Jamie Benning has created the ultimate documentaries for the original Star Wars Movies.  Unfortunately most people have never seen these films.  Each documentary follows the action and running time of each film.

Rather than post the movies here, I'll just provide a link (which is easier for me).   If you're a Star Wars fan you ought to give them a go.  Perhaps they've been around for a while, but I didn't know anything about them.

Star Wars (1977) Documentary (2:19:13)
Star Wars Begins (2011)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Documentary (2:16:49)
Building Empire (2006)

Return of the Jedi (1983) Documentary (2:28:11)
Returning to Jedi (2007)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mental Bias

Apple CEO Tim Cook is concerned about the advent of fake news recently and has called for a campaign to deal with it.  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is on board too.  I'm not sure how one would address this topic.  From my experience people gonna believe what they want to believe.  I'm not sure why this part of the human condition is so prevalent, but we are all biased.  It's really hard to see thing with an open mind at times.  Part of it I blame on the media.  I don't think they question authority the way they used to.  I don't know if they are intimidated, which really just plays into a lot politician's desires, ahem, Trump.  But I like it when I feel that things in politics are more transparent, and less muddied. 

For an example,  I don't understand this whole banning of Muslim immigrants from foreign countries by Trump.  I understand the basis of it, which is safety for Americans.  But the 7 countries that he's banning didn't have anything to do with 9/11.  Two countries, Saudi Arabia, from what US intelligence gathered  was one of those countries who hijacked airliners to attack New York and Washington DC on 9/11, the deadliest terrorist episode in history.  The other being Egypt.   I don't understand why reporters don't inquire on that until a satisfactory answer is given.   Could it have something to do with money?   I'd have to guess, perhaps it does.  (Doesn't it always?)  Granted I'm sure all the terrorist move around, but it seems like those two countries would be first on the list and some of the others secondary.

I have quibbles with the Democratic Party as well, just not as many.  Back in 2008 when we had the second depression and our economy was about to tank with the banks and "too big to fail".  Obama made mention of it, and said he was going to do something about it, but launched right into the ACA, health care thing.  It seems to me that our economy would have been first priority rather than health care.  But what do I know?  (Again I assume big money/lobbyist plays into that equation.)  

I digress.  At any rate, mental bias.  I ran across an article in the New Yorker on Why Smart People Are Stupid.  It addresses mental bias, and hey, if smart people are biased, the rest of us are as well.  Perhaps it's just hardwired into us from the dawn of time.

The Expanse started up a couple of weeks ago on the Syfy Channel.  The third episode comes out this week.  For me, it's not a perfect show, but I enjoy it on some level.  It has several characters, and at times it's hard to keep up with them all, but I just watching it and if I don't glean everything from the series, so be it.   It's at least smartly done, and the visual are nice to look at.  

Richard Hatch, one of the stars of Battlestar Galactica that played Captain Apollo died the other day.  I was a latecomer to Battlestar, but the fans of the early show were so diehard, I just had to look into it further.  Then the Syfy show did a reboot of the series, and gathered a bunch more fans.  Call me sentimental, but I prefer the earlier version.  They might be silly fantasy that more closely resembles Star Wars, but I prefer it better, though I have the first season to the reboot as well. 

I ran into a podcast that consist of SF book reviews.  Some of the books are classic, while others I've never heard of.  I thought I'd listen to a few of them as you never know what you'll uncover.  The guys doing the show though can be a little uneven.   You have some that are silly and light, and one of them appears more solemn and serious.   I know stuff like that requires a certain amount of levity, but I prefer the serious guy's outlook. 

The other day I also ran across this link for online sf stories from a bunch of different authors. Lots of links to award winners and other high-quality SF. 

There's also a site called Rocket Stack Rank, which I didn't know about, which takes one to a free source for reading a story, if it's available.
I ran into an odd fantasy movie I was unaware of the other day title, Mio in the Lands of Faraway.  It stars a young Christian Bale (Jum Jum) as the friend of the main character played by Nick Packard as Mio or Bosse.  A young boy named Bosse lives in misery with his cruel old aunt and uncle, until one night, he is whisked away to the magical land of Faraway. He finds that his real father is the king, and he is Prince Mio. Along with his friend Jum Jum, he sets out to defeat the evil knight Kato, and free the children that Kato has enslaved.   I like this sort of thing ever so often it takes me back to childhood and my younger days.  It's not a classic like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The Neverending Story or Harry Potter, or some of the others, but its worth a watch if you're in the mood.


Thursday, February 09, 2017


I started thinking the other day about a thought I'd had before and it's about the music in Star Wars: A New Hope.   You know the scene, which is popularly known as the Cantina scene, where Hans Solo is on the pirate planet of Mos Eisley at a table and eventually SPOILERS shoots Greedo.  There are a group of aliens up on stage playing a type of ragtime, jazz music.  It sort of reminds me of the speakeasy's here on Earth back in the 20s or whatever.   John Williams has said that it's to evoke the jazz scene of the 40s, sounding both alien, but also familiar.  I think the scene is very effective the way the scene opens going into the bar, then we get the music, which sort of provides a bit of levity, and the camera pans around the bar and we see all the aliens, some menacing looking and then dashes of levity as well.  It's smoky and dimly lit with this air of something that might happen.  It's hard to argue with Lucas and Williams in the handling of that scene.  Even now as I write that I get nostalgic for the movie, and feel like re-watching the movie.

My thought though is a less specifically about that scene, but more about what would people be listening to that far into the future?  I heard someone mention The Resident's album, Not Available, the other day as sounding alien and from another galaxy, and it does at least through parts of it.  But once they start singing lyrics, it becomes campy for me.  I like The Residents somewhat, and at the same time I don't listen to them very much.  I think I can appreciate their outlook or concepts more than their actual music.
One of the musicians that comes to mind for me was Vangelis.  Of course Vangelis has done many soundtracks like the music for Bladerunner and Chariot of Fire.  I like many of his albums, and he did a lot of them in the 70s and 80s that brings that atmosphere to mind like Invisible Connections, Heaven and Hell, Albedo 0 39, Spiral, Beauborg, and many others.
A German musician that came to mind that's in the same mold as Vangelis and one that I've really enjoyed listening to lately is Klaus Schultz.  His music is moody and atmospheric.  Although to my knowledge he has never made a soundtrack ( I lied, I just remembered he did, Body Love for a porn film which is actually a good album.  Check it out on YT). But he certainly makes music for the mind that conjures up all sort of images.  Timewind by him is a synthesizer classic as are many of his other albums.
Another electronic composer that comes to mind is Richard Baumann.   He played in one of the earlier line-ups of one of the classic electronic bands, Tangerine Dream.  With his solo output, he did not put out very many albums, but one in particular is fairly classic, Romance 76.
At any rate there are hundreds of electronic composers that I could probably list here, and I enjoy listening to that type music.  Way back in the mid to late 70s I bought an Arp Odyssey.  I didn't know anything at all about synthesizers, but was already listening to Tangerine Dream, and felt that that was the next frontier of music.  I don't think it was fully embrace by the public, particularly some of the more cerebral efforts like I've mentioned above, but today it has scores of fans.  The 80s was a decade that started to really use synthesizers in pop or new wave music.   They took it into a new direction, some I liked and others not as much.  But it was around that time frame I feel that synthesizer finally got firm footing as a musical instrument, and it's still very much with us today.


Monday, January 30, 2017

When Prophecy Fails

With the current new president and the staff he's put into power, and even before that while the debates were going on a lot of hearsay was bandied about.  Some people care about that stuff, while others, I think, are just fine putting up something whether it's true or not.   Helluva way to win an argument--I'm glad normal life isn't that way... Or is it?   I'm always pretty much upfront with people and try and buttress an argument with something real: science, facts, statistics, etc.  That doesn't mean I'm always right, but I'd at least I like and try to have an informed opinion about the world in which I live.

Granted some issues can be argued either way.  The above graphic about news quality comes from this site.  It tries to establish what are the more reliable news sources.  Some are biased, but that's not to say they don't have some bit of truth to them, say Fox news for example.  But if you look at the far right side and bottom of the graph, you'll see that Glen Beck's infotainment (I won't call it news) is low on the scale as is Alex Jone's propagandist site, Info Wars, which both rate nil. 

I don't suppose knowing this, except for me personally, will amount to much, but it's good to have this graph handy I guess if you are trying to win points for staying informed.  I had a friend (past tense) who I grew up with back in high school and college who drifted his own way, and I had to go mine.   He was always a bit of a loner, but so am I, and we shared many things in common like music and movies and whatnot.  We used to be pretty close, at least from a long distance (not living in the same city, plus Texas is pretty spread out).  At any rate, I remember going to his property in Georgetown, Tx and seeing that he is now raising Icelandic horses.  Good luck with that, and also a particular type sheep dog or whatever.   Sometime back he sent me an email about music or something about improving one's health, and we chatted a bit, but he'd quickly turn the conversation over to government conspiracy, ie. about the how the Bilderberg group were taking over, end of the world scenarios, George W. Bush having something to do with blowing up the 9-11 towers, and all sorts of nutsville stuff. 

We'd argue back and forth, and spent way to much time doing so, until I had to tell him, look it's obvious we don't agree on that topic, why not avoid that and just chat about something that's not so polarizing.  He would not do that, so I had to let him go, or he went his own way.  I think one of the final straws was he blamed me for something I didn't do.   He came back about a year later or so, again sending me a Youtube video of a musician, and I told him that's cool.  We reunited for about a day before he got back into his bullshit again.  Then he disappeared again. 

At any rate, I guess what I'm getting at is, people gonna believe what that wanna believe whether they got facts or not, it might just be a totally uninformed opinion.  That's just the way of the world, I guess that's life.  That goes back to our current president and his followers.  They want to believe what they want to believe, evidently some facts just don't matter to them.  What makes matters worse, Trump just won't let lying dogs lie.  He's gotta tweet about it. 

Here's an interesting article about self-deception. 

But I found the article buried within that article on a 50s UFO conspiracy every bit as interesting:  When Prophecy Fails.