Friday, December 28, 2012


I suppose I shouldn't gloat, but my son was in the lead when I pulled off the triple word score using all my letters for the bonus 50 points... 90 altogether with MOWS and AT in the bargain. OK, I guess I will gloat just a little.

Drug danger and dependence

Time to switch from coffee and wine to psilocybin? I suppose there are other considerations. Source.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Some Vandermark 5 for the holidays

In some superior alternate universe the Vandermark 5 are a lot more more popular than Maroon 5 or Ben Folds Five...

Nice light today

Andy Goldsworthy's Stone River is looking a little muddy, but fantastic nonetheless...

Is that a pot o' gold or just another IP law firm...?

Something new...

... popped up in the yard. Resembles the deadly Amanita ocreata, though there are harmless species that look somewhat similar...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Grab your parachutes boys and girls...

... looks like we're headin' over that fiscal cliff. Gotta feel sorry for Johnny B...

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

Washington (southwest section), D.C. Negro woman in her bedroom. Gordon Parks, 1942. Being a noir director at heart, perhaps, Mr. Parks may have been overly fond of the narrative in his still photos. But the picture is still worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

[Tule Lake segregation center, Newell, California]. Pete O'Crotty, 1943. In some of O'Crotty's photos, the younger folks in the "relocation" center seem to be having fun... summer camp in far northern California, courtesy of Uncle Sam... these folks don't seem quite so sure.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

Advertisement for an egg and chicken farm on U.S. 1 between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. Reginald Hotchkiss, 1941. Your eye is quickly drawn from the ostensible subject to the linear abstraction of the composition... who was this Hotchkiss?

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

Mountain woman by her home up Stinking Creek, Pine Mountain, Kentucky. Marion Post Wolcott, 1940. The stoicism that can only come from a lifetime in Stinking Creek. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The film is nothing if not Spielbergian, right down to the John Williams soundtrack, which as expected sounds like a cross between Star Wars and a Ken Burns documentary. I'll leave it to others to comment on the history and politics of the film, which for mainstream American pop seem pretty solid to me. What I will say is that the movie is mostly worth seeing for Daniel Day-Lewis's performance. He cannily embodies the archetypal Lincoln that every American school kid imagines, and yet renders that mythical creature in flesh and blood... and poetry. This is the Lincoln your mind will conjure from now on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

70 is the new 27

Damned if all parties don't rock harder than they have since their original bands broke up...

Un-heavy metal

The background visuals are lovely, but better yet, close your eyes and let Bill Dixon and Tony Oxley take you on their 12-minute journey. During his early childhood on Nantucket, did Dixon learn those squeals and rumbles from distant whale songs? And does Oxley's fondness for the thunder and clang of gongs and cymbals originate in the mills of his native Sheffield? Nah... more likely just pure delight in the fellowship of making endlessly fascinating sound from rounded pieces of brass and bronze.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 25

I do so love the goofy "Mr. Spaceman," and then those amazing, fleeting days with Gram Parsons, when they invented country rock. But this here is 2 minutes of pure pop pleasure, from winning lyrics to Hugh Masekela doing that Latin thing. Runner-up: Patti Smith's version, which plays the irony in a somewhat different direction...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Uvas Canyon

Sorry kids, I shoulda been grading your final exams today. But the sky and running water beckoned. Uvas Canyon is a short drive from San Jose, tucked above Morgan Hill. The ranch lands and vineyards you pass through along the way are splendid any time of year, and worth the drive by themselves.

Uvas is known for its pleasant seasonal waterfalls, but the flora always attract my eye. Here's a typical view from the waterfall loop trail...

Madrone, the most beautiful tree in the world...

Serendipitous oak critter...

The sheer brute force with which a fleshy mushroom  can force its way up through the packed earth never ceases to amaze me (a russula, in this instance)...

... or, appear as if dropped by some wayward hiker...

Oysters... tempting, but too pretty (and too high up) to collect...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beautiful nor-Cal

Chuck B seems to like fungi and the UC-Berkeley Botanical Garden as much as I do. I was just up there a couple weeks ago. It's every bit as glorious as his photos make it out to be, and that's saying something.


Never my cup of tea, really. But nobody ever sounded anything like him, and there's little doubt he left a mark on American music and culture. Everybody will be playing "Take Five" today, even though it was written by Paul Desmond and owes its fame as much to his fine, slippery alto sound as it does to Brubeck's piano.

Instead of some Brubeck, how about a song that captures some of his milieu, with a balance of sincere nostalgia and a little sneer (it is Donald Fagen, after all)...

I hear you're mad about Brubeck
I like your eyes, I like him too
He's an artist, a pioneer
We've got to have some music on the new frontier

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Open source donations for the holidays

In addition to giving your hard-earned money to support the important work of Amnesty, MSF, Nature Conservancy, Second Harvest, FAVL, and the like, why not send a small amount to your friendly open-source information sources and advocates, such as Wikimedia and Creative Commons. Can you imagine a world without Wikipedia? It don't grow on trees.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fiscal cliffin'

Seems like the prez may be tellin' punkinhead to go F himself...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

After the rain... Huddart Park

Beautiful any time of year, but at its best after a good soaking greens up the moss and lichen, and stimulates the fungi to fruit...

Like many humans, banana slugs love oyster mushrooms...

Satan's bolete is always impressive, even when half rotten. FYI, I returned it and the resident salamander to its original location after photo...

Billy Joel

Happened upon Billy Joel in conversation with Alec Baldwin on NPR today. As expected, it was pretty annoying, but also rather entertaining. Which got me wondering... why is it that I hate Billy Joel's music so much? Is it possibly because it really sucks? Yup, that's it all right!