Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Rogue Traders - Voodoo Child - At the 2005 Arias

Australians like their rock-and-roll!

Working On Childhood Book

I was having difficulty starting to write about my childhood, so I've been mining my blog for starting points. That is one good function of the blog: even fleeting thoughts are captured, and upon recollection, can be elaborated upon. Still, it's hard to fully capture the feel of a day long gone by. An interesting challenge.

The Blindingly Obvious Conclusion Goes Unnoted

What is the difference between 2001 and 2013 when it comes to California electricity?:
For the past year or so, the ISO has been engaged in a series of disputes with JPMorgan over the investment bank's trades and other business practices. The disputes are being refereed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has generally sided with California in a series of preliminary rulings.

Among other things, FERC suspended JPMorgan's authority to trade electricity at a profit for allegedly lying to investigators about its California trades. The commission also ordered JPMorgan to stop obstructing the renovation of two Huntington Beach power plants; state officials said the renovations could prove critical in avoiding blackouts in Southern California this summer.

In March, FERC officially warned JPMorgan of a "possible enforcement action" over its trading methods, according to a regulatory filing.

After consistently denying any wrongdoing, JPMorgan appears ready to settle. The total settlement, covering the firm's operations in California and the Midwest, could reportedly surpass $500 million.
So, does the Sacramento Bee's Dale Kasler come to blindingly-obvious conclusion? No, he does not. When FERC is under the control of Republicans (as in 2001) efforts to recover damages are impossible to achieve. Only when Democrats have a dominant voice (like in 2013) is justice even possible.

That is the proper conclusion.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mark Bolan - "Ride A White Swan"

When this fave song came out, it lasted on the playlist of KQEO-AM 920 just one week. Even though it was a hit in the UK, it was so ephemeral in the U.S. it was almost as if it didn't exist. Couldn't get enough. It's now best-known for its sublime appearance in the movie "Billy Elliot".

What Could Go Wrong?

Spanish Train Derailment Quite Frightening

I've loved trains all my life, and to see this footage is like a nightmare come to life. Death toll at eighty, and rising in the famous medieval pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela.

Errant Central-American Bird

It's funny what a wandering bird does to people:
Never before has there been a recorded sighting of a Rufous-necked wood-rail in the United States, but for the last two weeks one of the birds has been right at home among the cattails at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Typically, the species is found along the coasts and in tropical forests in Central and South America, far from parched New Mexico.

...The phones have been ringing off the hook at Bosque del Apache since the bird, about the size of a small chicken, was first spotted on the morning of July 7.

..."It's way cool. We have people flying into Albuquerque every day, from Florida, California, the East Coast," Mize said. "There are people coming in renting cars and driving down because it's such a neat and rare event."

Legendary birder Sandy Komito was there last Tuesday and Wednesday to see the wood-rail. He holds the "big year" record for seeing or hearing the largest number of bird species in North America in a single year.

Throughout his 73 years of bird-watching, Komito had seen only one other Rufous-necked wood-rail. Last Tuesday, he gave up after spending 11 hours at the refuge and getting more of a suntan than he wanted. He wasn't happy. He heard it was spotted again late in the evening so he raced down the next morning and there it was. His camera sounded like a pneumatic jackhammer as the shutter fired, capturing close to 200 shots of the bird.

...Refuge officials also recalled the story of an Iowa man who flew into Denver, rented a car and drove down to see the wood-rail only to be disappointed. After driving back to Denver and turning in his rental, he got a phone call that the bird had reappeared. It was enough for him to change his flight, get another rental and drive back down.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

James McMurtry "Choctaw Bingo"

Life in Meth-klahoma.

Suggested by wonderful article in the New York Times:
Walter may have wanted us to believe — and may, at moments, have convinced himself — that he was a decent man driven by desperate circumstances to do terrible things, but that notion was either wishful thinking or tactical deceit. ... “Breaking Bad” reveals itself as the story of a man mastering his vocation and fighting to claim his rightful place in the world. Its dark, morally scandalous vision has been imposed on the kind of tale that is, more conventionally, an inspiring parable of entrepreneurial gumption. This formula turns out to be well suited to the times.

This fellow suggests the song should be our new national anthem:
Here's where this song is so amazingly prophetic. Looking at it now, through the lens of the crash, you can see how it envisions the American economy as nothing more than an elaborate Choctaw bingo enterprise, with lots of flashing lights to lure in the unwary and the unlucky, a system that, for all its fancy formulas and talk of risk assignment, is nothing more than a sucker's game. And later in the song, McMurtry explicitly names the scam at the heart of it: subprime mortgages.

Spending Time At The "Heisenberg Chronicles"

"Breaking Bad" has spurred such an explosion in art!

Illustration above by Bongo.

Illustration above by Goha Waszkiewicz in Poznan, Poland

By Geoff Gunning in the U.K.

By Lora Zombie in St. Petersburg, Russia / Web site / Facebook / deviantART

Republicans Taking A Nose Dive

Down with that.

Trying To Buckle Down Today

Noel has suggested several times that I should write a book about growing up in New Mexico. Apparently some of my stories have struck her as picturesque, and wants more. Myself, I'm not sure my life has been all that interesting, but reflection might expose more of interest. Things that were once mundane, with the passage of time, now look odd.

But how to impart form to formlessness? I posed exactly this question to Michael Flowers last night on Facebook, and in typical "Breaking Bad" fashion, this was his response:

Klea "Tic Toc" (Magik Musik Remix)

Nostalgic for 2004 today.

Andain - Beautiful Things (Gabriel and Dresden Unplugged Remix)

From 2002. A song that appears to be about marriage, of all things.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Extinction Of The Dildo

The extinction of the dildo seriously-compromised the propagation of the tambalacoque tree on Mauritius, which now depends almost-entirely on force-fed chickens for seed germination.

A Rhetorical Question

How does the GOP make inroads in the Hispanic community when its representatives go farther and farther out on a racist limb with each passing year? Well, it can't. There was a time, not long ago, when many Hispanics found reason to be life-long Republicans, but those days are pretty-much over. Witness Rep. Steven King:
"For every one that's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." Um, no, Mr. King, that's not true!

Price Of Gold

Um, yeah, thought so.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Daddy Yankee - Viña del Mar 2009 - Entrada de Daddy Yankee - Jefe

Tonight in Zumba class, I asked Pepper for the title of one song that struck me as quirky: sort-of the perfect "Breaking Bad" song. We had a slight miscommunication, instead he gave me the name of this song, which had always intrigued me, and in some ways is even more suited for "Breaking Bad" (with its English chorus of 'The King Is Back') at the start of Season 5b.

This concert - the most important in Daddy Yankee's career - takes place in Viña del Mar, Chile, which makes sense, given Chile's huge rap and hip hop audience. I love the show-biz meld of Spanish and English and hip-hop. (There seems to be a wave of formidable Latin hip-hop musicians born in 1977: witness Ana Tijoux's "1977"). The audience for trans-national hip-hop is just gigantic. Daddy Yankee seems to have won the popularity lottery. Wikipedia explains:
Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez (born February 3, 1977), known by his stage name Daddy Yankee, is a Puerto Rican reggaeton songwriter and recording artist. Ayala was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and was raised in the Villa Kennedy Housing Projects.

While still dabbling in music, Ayala aspired to be a professional baseball player and tried out for the Seattle Mariners Major League baseball team. Before he could be officially signed, he was hit by a stray round from an AK-47 rifle while taking a break from a studio recording session with reggaeton mixtape icon DJ Playero. Ayala spent roughly one and a half years recovering from the wound; the bullet was never removed from his hip, and he credits the shooting incident with allowing him to focus entirely on a music career. Since then, he has sold over 10 million albums.

Something Affecting About A Break-Dancing Chicken

"Breaking Bad" Watch Parties In Albuquerque

It's very interesting how "Breaking Bad" opened up opportunities for communal togetherness in Albuquerque. Since I'm not on Twitter, and spend most of my time with the Facebook group, I hadn't fully-appreciated Miguel Jaramillo's efforts to bring people together, but his watch parties look like they are the bomb! His last parties are listed here:
1. (Premiere) Uptown Sports Bar, 6601 Uptown Blvd NE, Sunday August 11th

2. Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, 3009 Central Ave NE, Sunday August 18th

3. Louie's Pub & Grill, 5603 Menaul Blvd NE, Sunday August 25th

4. Hooligan's Tavern, 9800 Montgomery Blvd NE, Sunday September 1st

5. Marble Brewery, 111 Marble NW, Sunday September 8th

6. Kelly's Brew Pub, 3222 Central Ave SE, Sunday September 15th

7. Il Vicino Canteen, 2381 Aztec Rd, Sunday September 22nd

8. (Finale) Hotel Albuquerque, 800 Rio Grande Blvd, Sunday September 29th

The Challenge Of Elementary Break-Dancing In Late Middle Age

Where the hell am I going to put this gut?

"The Lone Ranger"

Wasn't sure what to make of the strange collapse of this movie in the marketplace, so rounded up Joe the Plumber and saw it for myself.

Now that I've seen it for myself, I'm still not sure what to make of it. Joe the Plumber pronounced the comedy in the movie to be "adequate".

Action-adventure movies since "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) have focused on close-calls and basically-superhuman capabilities. "Raiders" was particularly uncomfortable to watch, since the antics are so many, and cumulatively so improbable, that the odds of survival are basically nil.  Unfortunately it's now become a Hollywood big-budget movie tradition: a bad tradition. When super-humanity is required to survive, loss of interest in survival follows immediately. The Lone Ranger buys right into that tradition. For example, the last scene in the trailer enclosed here shows Johnny Depp as Tonto, leaping down something like 30 feet from one moving train to another, and landing on a nice, hard, rocky bed of silver ore so pure that it is basically composed of metal. If you do that in real life, you are basically not getting out of bed the next day. Or the day after that.

Then there's the tendency to cram every event that ever happened in the 19th Century into one movie. Instead of telling one story well, every story is told. And yet, I'm sure to much frustration, Queen Victoria is not mentioned once in the entire movie. How could a movie purport to tell the entire story of the 19th Century without mentioning Queen Victoria even once?

Still, at the same time, the movie was very entertaining, in its high-octane way. Johnny Depp's portrayal of Tonto owes much to Dustin Hoffmann's portrayal of Sitting Bull in Little Big Man (1970). Some people hate the artifice of Tonto appearing in the Old West museum, but I thought it was an excellent choice. We tell much of our past through museums, and they have more influence than people are even aware!  So, both very good and very bad, in an easy-to-forget combination!

I was disappointed the way locations were mix-mastered the way Hollywood likes to do. (Please, Texas does not look anything like Monument Valley, and Promontory Point isn't there either.) I was surprised how little of New Mexico actually appears in the movie, given the big splash it made there over the last year, but that's how it goes. I was intrigued by the locations they chose (I thought the Lone Pine, CA, location was particularly-effective): 
Creede, Colorado, USA
Albuquerque Studios - 5650 University Boulevard SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Monument Valley, Utah, USA
Monument Valley, Arizona, USA
Moab, Utah, USA
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle, Arizona, USA
Sunland, Los Angeles, California, USA
Hurley, New Mexico, USA
Angel Fire, New Mexico, USA (exterior scenes)
Lone Pine, California, USA (Tonto flash back)
Durango, Colorado, USA (train scenes)
Abiquiu, New Mexico, USA
Shiprock, New Mexico, USA
Alamosa, Colorado, USA
Puerco Valley, New Mexico, USA
Texas, USA
And what of the critics and their condemnations? Well, mostly well-deserved. So next time you try to cram the entire 19th-Century into a movie, you'd better mention Queen Victoria! And Napoleon! And Stanley and Livingstone! And the Crimean War!  And whaling!  None of which were mentioned, even once!:
This will now go down as a huge, massive, hilarious, unthinkable, crazy, job-killing blunder. The people who had the good sense to initially halt production should've stuck to their guns.

...Remember how the comedy Back to the Future: Part III paid homage to the West by exaggerating it in a semi-funny way? The Lone Ranger makes Back to the Future: Part III seem authentic in comparison.

How bad is it? The framing device for this movie has a very old Tonto telling some kid dressed as the Lone Ranger the story of how he met the masked man and their travels together. Tonto, looking like anything but a human being in tragic old-age makeup, is making a living posing as a Native American in a museum exhibit, right next to a grizzly bear.

...Everything in this movie is taken too far, from the dirt makeup to the crazy beards and chops to the caricature accents. Even the sound of a kid eating a peanut is turned up to an extent that becomes gut-churning and abrasive.

...Well, I get even more annoyed by PG-13 movies marketed to kids and families that contain the kind of violence on display in this crap. Heart-eating, horse-trampling, multiple gunshots, stabbings and the threat of sticking a duck's foot up somebody's ass should not be on the viewing agenda for the entire family.

At The Horse Farm

In the nether regions between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.

Imogene Adam's 89th birthday party.


Passion fruit arbor.

Flowers, tents.

Beyond the barbeque tent, the raised-bed garden, and the swimming-pool solar-powered heater.

Garden with heater.


Mini chicken coop.

Butter nut squash.

Tomato plants.

Horse arena, for longeing.



Horse arena.

Mirror with which one can evaluate one's performance on the horse.

Horse barn.


Mexican lavender.

Pugs. One of these three pugs (I can't remember which, because all three look alike) became famous in the pug universe because she gave birth to a litter of ten pups. According to the story, French television sent a film crew out to record the miracle. I don't know if ten is a world record for pugs (the world-record for all dogs is 24), but it is unusually large for pugs, in general.

Spanky, the youngest pug.