Saturday, October 31, 2015


The smart-ass Steely Dan fans in college (my best buds) insisted that their pinnacle was the virtuosic and cynical Pretzel Logic, and who could disagree? Meanwhile, the slick jazz-rock of Aja was a sell-out: still the Dan, and still excellent, of course, but fully satisfying to neither the Dan fanatic nor the jazz aficionado. And yet... the (2nd?) greatest hip-hop collective of all chose to sample "Peg" for a reason: the slick over-production had a devious purpose... that every word and every note of every song would drill straight into the pleasure center of your brain. Or so it seems to me nearly 40 years after the fact.

Satsuki is a comfort-lover...

... and far be it from me to disrupt her comfort!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Neil Young is not a fan of Monsanto...

... or Starbucks, or GMOs. As for me... Starbucks has made it possible to find a drinkable cup of coffee wherever you go, a net positive for humanity; GMOs, a mixed bag, but hardly deserving blanket condemnation (ask Pope Francis, Laudato Si, ¶131); Monsanto, ditto.

As for Neil Young, the question is always whether the politics inspires the good Neil or the bad... by good I mean "Southern Man." Bad? This new song is a candidate, but there is a goofy earnestness that somehow redeems it for me...

Laylita's recipes

I stumbled across Laylita's enticing Ecuadorean cooking site tonight while searching for roast chicken with chimichurri. Her recipe for chimichurri butter was straightforward and delicious. Not all of her recipes are so simple... here's one that looks quite a bit more elaborate and that, as any good recipe must, makes you eager to give it a try.

I suppose everyone has their own favorite form of internet pornography...!

Oops, that was YOUR undersea mega-cable?

My bad, dude!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Vince Gill

OK, I confess, I occasionally watch Country's Family Reunion on RFD TV. Vince confesses that he sings like a girl. Good for the girls, I say.

The gall!

On scrub oak in Foothills Park...

Friday, October 16, 2015

I won't dance...

Ella and Louis. Jerome Kern. Oscar Peterson!

Race and police killings

A thoughtful piece by Sendhil Mullainathan. It does not refute the message of Black Lives Matter, but properly places it in a broader and even more challenging perspective. I do wish the headline had treated "data" as a plural...

Your FSA/OWI Photo of the Day

San Augustine, Texas. Farm girl with a mule team behind the courthouse on Saturday afternoon. John Vachon, 1943.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Only in the California Native Plant Society Bulletin...

"Making friends with mosses and liverworts adds panache to one's naturalist mojo." Far be it from me to disagree... I just might have to sign up for the new statewide Bryophyte Chapter!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The X-Files

I'm not a TV addict, but yeah, I've watched my share. And there will never ever be a better TV love story than the X-Files. Two flawed grownups, each with her/his own seemingly irreconcilable philosophy and neuroses, brought together by crisis, necessity, curiosity, stubbornness, professionalism, and the plain irrefutable fact that once united, one could never again exist without the other. Pure 19th-century romanticism: The nods to irony are only there to trick the modern viewer into watching. Do.

In the debate, Hillary probably sealed the deal...

... against her only real rival, Joe Biden. I like Bernie, and I'd probably vote for him on pure preferences. But I'm a democratic socialist too, so that's no big surprise. I'd add that his position on Snowden is the only honest one... it's just total bullshit to claim, as every other Dem seemed to, that Snowden could have accomplished what he did by being a "whistleblower" within the system. But at this point, it is Hillary's election to lose. After the primaries, she'll be the only grownup in the race. One hopes there is still a majority of Electoral College votes that thinks it's a good idea to have a grownup running the country.

Tee hee hee...

Eduardo Porter writes a funny column about bringing the Republicans to the table on climate change policy. Here's my favorite silly quote:
Eli Lehrer, who runs the R Street Institute, a fairly conventional conservative research firm except that it supports a carbon tax to combat climate change, argued that the Republicans’ stance was “a direct reaction to the Democrats’ efforts to use scientific facts to try to dictate public policy.”
Oooo... those nasty Democrats tried to blind me with... science! Here's my favorite fun fact about the groundswell of Republican concern about the climate:
Last month, 11 Republicans in the House introduced a resolution that — tortuously worded though it may have been — acknowledged the need to “address the causes and effects” of a changing climate.
That's 11 nervous nellies... in the entire GOP House.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Eat shit and live

OK, crass, but I couldn't resist. And probably true...

Well, the good news is...

... that many of them seem either crazy or stupid enough to throw away millions on Ted Cruz and Rick Perry.
From Only 158 Families, Half the Cash in the ’16 Race
On the other hand, the bad news is they have lots of millions where those came from for the candidates left standing...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Now (NOT) showing at your local cineplex...

... but by golly it seems like it should be... The Creeping Garden. Guess I'll wait for it to hit Netflix...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Family types

"We are a weapons family," Ms. Skinner said.
"We are not," Mr. Sundstrom said.
Everyone sad and angry. Some armed.

Geri Allen

The best jazz pianist working today?

How hard is it to say exactly what you mean?

I am not confident that I know whether the Pope or the Vatican is in favor of carbon pricing policies or opposed. I read the encyclical as being opposed, for exactly the same reasons that Stavins and Nordhaus did. Now Joe Romm says we got it all wrong. The fact that very smart people can disagree on such a straightforward question suggests that the encyclical, in this regard, was poorly written, or perhaps poorly translated. Now there is a simple solution: Francis, do you or do you not support cap-and-trade and or carbon taxes as key policy instruments for combatting global warming?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 62

Yep, back to school, kids! Readin' and writin' and 'conometrics...

Metaphorically speaking, of course

Henning Mankell, RIP

I do like crime novels. I've read quite a few. Henning Mankell wrote some very good ones. His Inspector Wallander will surely go down as one of the greats... taciturn, brilliant, deeply ethical, in the mold of Adam Dalgliesh; not Dalgliesh of course, but then, in genre fiction, Dalgliesh and Smiley stand alone, no?

And yet, novel after novel, I began to lose interest. Mankell's chilly, cynical take on modern Scandinavian culture began to strike me as more posturing than realism. Of course, it's possible that life in Sweden or Norway is as corrupt and depraved as Mankell's and Nesbø's novels imply. If so, give me Elmore Leonard's cheerfully nasty drug dealers and prostitutes, or Denise Mina's tough-luck Scottish punks.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wonderful things

Today: Dolphins off Santa Cruz; Pulp Fiction (again); best of all, a friendly alien visitor to our yard...