Friday, April 12, 2019

Captain A, and Friendship

I know, it's been a while.   Heck, I even forgot how Blogger works it's been so long.  This is just a short message to update this dusty old blog, and shoo away a few cob webs.  The above video is by a knowledgeable fellow who goes by the name of Arlen Schumer.  He's the type guy I enjoy listening to as his knowledge and enthusiasm shows thru his presentation, which in turn, gets me involved and interested all over again in what he's talking about.  This time being, Captain America and one or more of the artist working on that character, Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko.  He shows panel designs which helps illustrate their work and what he's also talking about.  A really good lecture.

Updates on what's been happening around here lately.   Well basically the same old same.  I read, watch movies, listen to music, go out, make lunch, actually I enjoy cooking from time to time.  Also throw into the mix, I try and work out some, and would like to go to the gym more often or on a regular basis.  Spring is coming on strong here, and that means yard work too, among other outdoor household chores.  So I stay busy.

I'll dedicate this update to a friend of mine that was really into comics who died right before I moved from West Texas in 2010 to the Eastern part.  He was a really bright, open-minded fellow that loved comics, his dogs, was married, but having trouble and going thru a divorce.  He also like detective and crime fiction a lot.  He also like working out, and feeling good.  So while he was alive, he was great fun to be around along with some of my other friend back in those days, who also used to be friends with Dave.   Since he was having health problems and the due to his recent divorce, he ended up killing himself with a knife to the heart.  I guess his heart was so wounded, he just felt that was apropos.  It brings up all sorts of discourse however, for one, I'd be all for euthanasia or assisted suicide.  I believe they have something like that in Colorado now--a very progressive state imo.   At any rate I remember one of the last times I saw Dave he mentioned something to the fact that his cancer was coming back and he didn't want to live with a colostomy bag.  Trying to cheer him up, I mentioned that the talk show host, Sally Jessy Raphael, wore one and continued to have an active lifestyle.  But he would have none of that.  He said, it just wasn't for him.  I didn't read much into his comments beyond the surface, and since I was still working, got busy with my own life.  Life goes on for the living.

He didn't commit suicide right after that, but did not too long afterwards.  I guess suicide is always somewhat of a shock, and we are left wondering why.  But I just thought with his cancer reoccurring, his marriage breaking up, and truthfully it was pretty rocky before then--he got depressed, and he had a few other things in his life to add to that mix.  I miss him a lot though, and understand why he felt it was the best way out for himself.  But while he was around, he was a great, fun friend.    That's him below in a happier moment.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

It and Album Covers

Currently this winter is flying by.  At the moment I'm watching the re-make to the Steven King adaptation of the movie, It.  It's really great or at least one of the better movies I've seen lately.  More on that later.  Just got thru doing a video on vinyl album covers.  Thought I'd post it here. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017 Wrap-up

Ho ho ho, you rebel scum.  That's much better than that bah humbug stuff, isn't it?  So the new Star Wars movie is out and from the reviews it has gotten so far it sounds like a pretty good film, which is good as I like Star Wars.  I haven't seen it yet, but plan on doing so perhaps over the Christmas holiday.   How did you feel about the past films of 2017?   I thought they were okay.  I haven't seen everything, which is just the way I roll these days, I just don't get out that often to the cinema.  I did get out and see Blade Runner 2049, which I loved.  But for most of the time I'll just catch them with my Netflix sub.    Having said that there are still many more I want to watch. 
Some weeks back I watched the third part of the newly revamped Planet of the Ape franchise.  War for the Planet of the Apes, was exciting, immersive, and I enjoyed it.  That whole trilogy was worthwhile and could have gone wrong in so many ways.  I'm glad it was able to dovetail some of the early series of films into it.  I guess these type stories will always have some au courant subtext because evidently we're always going to be at war with somebody somewhere.   Sad, but true.   I really enjoyed the little girl that they found in this last adventure, and how they explained away why the humans in the apes world lost their ability to speak. 
I watched the Korean film, The Chaser this past year, and it was really good too.  It's about a serial killer in Korea, and if you enjoyed films like Silence of the Lambs or I Saw the Devil, well, you'd probably enjoy The Chaser as well.  It's a dark film as one might expect from such genre, but another reason I liked it was it went in unexpected directions and had characters that weren't cookie cutter.   So yeah, if you like that sort of thing, give it a shot.
The same thing is a bit true for Nocturnal Animals, not that it was about a serial killer, although it's closely related in some ways, being about murder.  It's one of those stories within a story movies, and I generally enjoy both Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal in roles.  If you are looking for another good story that makes you wonder where it's going, it's a good one.  As you can probably see, I wasn't too much into the whole super hero or blockbuster epics this year as much.  It's not that I don't like them, I still watch my fair share, but I've just been wanting to see something else. 
Although I did see Alien, Covenant.  I'm admittedly a big SF fan, and a big Alien fan, so I had to see it.  It's the SF law.  I enjoyed it for what it was, but I didn't feel it progressed the cannon that much, and there weren't any huge surprises either.  Michael Fassbender was good in it, which I expected.  But for what it was, another part in the Alien franchise, I could enjoy it on some level, although I think I enjoyed, Prometheus better.  I'd give it a B grade or something like that. 
Logan I was a little indifferent to.  I think some of this comes with age.  I'm not a teenager anymore, and although I enjoyed it for the action film it was, and for being a part of the X-Men franchise, however, the language in it was a turnoff.  I grew up in a time when Wolverine would get pissed off and say something like "Cripes."   If someone got the better of Conan, he'd exclaim something along the line of, "Crom."   I don't know if it was just for the ratings, but Logan sure used the F-word a lot in this film, which I thought was totally out of character, and silly/stupid as well--not to mention poor scripting.  Man, talk about a super hero NOT one to look up to.  Aside from that criticism, I did enjoy the film.
Now army medic, Desmond T. Doss would be the type hero to look up too.  Yes, it's a pretty propagandized film, but taken from a real story that was made into a bigger story for the film.  How it really all went down, who knows, but I did enjoy this tale that sort of took its queues from earlier Hollywood.  Perhaps a bit old fashion in the telling, but I enjoyed it. 
I really had high hopes and anticipation for Kong: Skull Island, but man, what a dumb picture.  I've never seen in a picture in recent memory that had characters doing such lamebrain stuff.   So there's a gigantic monster ape, and it's uprooting trees and boulders and throwing them at your oncoming helicopter and you don't turn around and fly away or at least say, "I think we need a bigger plane."  Wow, I thought the other monster in the film was ill-conceived too.  It just looked goofy to me.  I know the original King Kong is just going to be hard to beat, but this was a big let down for me. 
I've generally enjoyed Michael Keaton's performances in whatever vehicle he's in, so the same is true for The Founder.  He injects a lot of energy into his roles.  Again this film seems a bit old fashion perhaps in its direction and approach to the character, and the film does have it's flaws--the ending didn't totally work for me, but it's not like you didn't see it coming either.  However I assume it was taken from real history, so they can't hardly change that without making even more mistakes.   But up until that third act; I enjoyed the film. 
Wilson is probably going to be one of those comedies that either you're going to love or hate, or fall somewhere in-between like I did.  Again I generally like Woody Harrelson in his roles, and this one was pretty much made for him.  I'd read the Daniel Clowes' graphic novel from which it was adapted, and didn't know how they could capture it for the cinema, but they did a pretty good job.  A lot of the jokes are blue or bathroom humor as the poster above implies.  It's not quite Woody Allen and it's not quite Seth Rogen either, but falls somewhere in the middle perhaps.  It's sort of one of those films that's not exactly memorable, but I could watch it again just for a few laughs, and I've seen a lot worse.  If you need a laugh, give it a watch. 

So did you see any good films this year?  There are many more I want to see like the newest Star Wars movie,  Get Out, The Shape of Water,  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,  Victoria & Abdul,  Wonder Woman,  Dunkirk,  The Darkest Hour,  and well, I'm sure many more.
Here are many other Top Ten list for 2017 if you care to take a look.  I'm sure there are quite a few for any particular taste.  On the smaller screen I also enjoyed the Netflix series, Stranger Things, and I'm curious about a series called, Dark.   I also enjoyed the Ken Burns series on The Vietnam War. 

One of my smaller endeavors below, on music. 


Friday, December 01, 2017

So I Got Nothing Better to Do, Right?

So I tried linking my bank that I use in town to my 401k account.  There was some business I needed to do so I thought I better do that.  I know I should be grateful that I even have a 401k account, but it wasn't working.  I get frustrated pretty quickly over stuff like that.  A.)  I'm not not Steve Jobs when it comes to computers.  I can do quite a bit with the computer particularly since I'm an old fart, but some things I tend to second guess myself about.  So when I couldn't get online with my bank I was wondering what was going on.   I looked around to make sure I had my password correctly and that I was putting in the correct email and user name.  I ended up calling the bank here locally, and of course, ever so often you'll get someone that will talk to you like you're a complete idiot.  But she said, she can't help me with a  password, and goes on to tell me how to go about getting a new password.  Huh, okay.   I go back and try that to no avail.

I then call the 800 number to get someone outside our local yokel town parish of Numbnuts, America.   The lady there was more helpful, but told me if I haven't used my online account within the past year, I was probably kicked off.  I told her I believe I had used it within the past year, and she for whatever reason, disregarded my remark.  She went on to tell me, well, you'll have to get a new password and online account with us.   I asked if  I can do that online.  She replies, no sir, you have to go down to the bank for that.  Sheesh.

In the first place I believe I have been online in the past year, I know I have.   Now about all I did was look at my account, but also I believe I had set up a link to transfer some money thru that account as well.  I smell a rat, and it's known as corporate America.   In other words, whether I've been online or not (and I think I was) they are going to lie to me or not even acknowledge me, and tell me I gotta go downtown to redo, what should not have been undone.   Even then, what kind of rinky-dink bank makes someone actually go down in person for what should a been something you could just do online?  It just didn't make any sense to me one iota.    Of course the other thing being:  If I had not been online in say a year,  why the heck would they just kick me off?   I mean, don't banks want to keep their customers happy anymore, or is that just some bygone era thing?

So I get in the car and go down and re-establish my account again.  Believe me I got real unnerved when the teller that was helping after getting my driver's license said, "I can't seem to find your account with us."  My mind was turning over, okay what now?  I'm pretty easy going by nature, but stuff like this rattles my cage...

Anyway as long as I was out, I ran a few errands.  I went by the store and a few other places, and then once I got hungry again headed home.  Hopefully, no more glitches. 

Anyway tonight I watched some tube and ran across this series on Roku called Mark Hammill's Pop Culture Quest, which are pretty nerdy, but also interesting.  You can watch them here. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First time, long time

Been a while, but I thought I'd post something new.  I've not done much posting because I didn't think I was getting much out of it personally, but more importantly I wanted to do some other things like exercise, make some art, and just some other stuff that matter a little more to me.  And since there's only so many hours in the day, somethings got to give, so I went on hiatus. 

Anyway, I just finished off the Netflix series of Stranger Things.   Back on Black Friday I got the word from a Youtuber that Target was putting the Blu-Ray version of it on sale for ten bucks.  It also includes the regular disc as well.  I thought that was a great price, so picked up a copy.  It's neat the way they produced the packaging too as it looks like an old VHS tape one might see on the racks of the VHS stores back in the 80s, which is the time frame of the series.

So how is the series?   I love it.  It takes you back in a time capsule of the 80s, not only is it set during that heyday, but the soundtrack includes hit songs from back then as well.  Sometimes things that concerned teens of that time frame creep into the show as well like making mixed tapes, talking about Star Wars movies, playing Dungeon and Dragons, and a lot of stuff like that.   I've heard that the Season Two picks right up after the events of Season One, and gets even more crazy, so I'm all ready to see that.  The soundtrack is a good one too.  It's mostly synthesizer music that reminds me of Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter, and things like that. 

Over Halloween I didn't do a lot.  I just wasn't much in the mood for that season.  Here in Texas it just didn't feel like it.  It's been a warm winter, and that was part of it, but also I just wasn't into revisiting any of the old horror movies that generally show up on cable over and over again.   I mean right as I type this, we are in the middle of winter supposedly and it's 76 degrees outside!  Not that I mind a warmer winter, I'm just saying it doesn't feel like winter.  But also our local cable provider, Suddenlink (who sucks) dropped TCM, and that was my go to channel for Halloween. 

I drew the above art for the show which called for art having the theme of Heavy Metal for the show. It's currently up a the Downtown Gallery, now showing in downtown Tyler.   To me the theme of Heavy Metal evokes both the music and reminded me of the old Heavy Metal magazines, which by the way are still being produced today.   I no long still buy the Heavy Metal magazine, but back then I'd buy some, and prefer the older magazine a lot more than the newer ones.  I didn't go to the opening night either as I just avoid crowds, plus hate small talk.  I've been to a few of the past openings and to tell you the truth, they depress me in some ways.  I still need to go by there though and just see what artwork others have entered as I do like doing that however.  There are some talented artist in Tyler I'll give the town that, although, it's a pretty lackluster town aside from that. 

I also entered some art that is currently on public view in Tyler.   It is decorating one of the traffic signal boxes, which is located down in south Tyler around the Target store.  I do like that it was accepted, it made me pretty happy, plus I was even paid for it.  I won't turn down the money, but I was really happy it was accepted and is now on public view. 

I've been watching these videos on Youtube by a Jerry Kroth, Phd.  He's an associate professor emeritus at Santa Clara University in California.  I like his videos because they make me think plus are very informative.  I watched one today called Is America on the Brink?  In it he states his case about how one gauges that, what criteria should be consider when gauging that, and so on.  I've posted a few of his videos on Facebook, which got no response.  Either people are too busy to care, or just don't give a shit.  But I'll post one below.   If you like it, you can subscribe to his channel.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Arthur C. Clarke interview with Roger Ebert

 In March of 1997, film critic Roger Ebert interviewed author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke. In the prose version of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, the computer HAL is said to have been 'born' in Urbana in 1997. This interview was conducted not only on HAL's birthyear, but also on the eve of 3001: THE FINAL ODYSSEY's publication.

Ebert questions Clarke on topics related to the film, the ideas contained in 3001, and some other related topics in science fiction and science. The interview was featured at CYBERFEST ‘97, a gala celebration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was an event that not only marked HAL's fictitious birth, but also celebrated the University of Illinois' contributions to the revolution and evolution of computing.
This program was produced by Illinois Public Media and WILL-TV, public broadcasting at the University of Illinois.

Go here to Vimeo to view the video.  I never had seen this before and thought it was pretty interesting.

Here's another video with Arthur C. Clarke on predicting the future.  It's from 1964.  Although the video is grainy due to  time I still found it interesting.

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.