Sunday, December 31, 2006


A few years ago I had a painting assignment. I was told to find an organic item to use as a stamp. The stamp was to be brought into class with a finished art product. The art product had to incorporate a stamping or stampings of our organic item. We were to present the finished product to the class for a critique. The class was supposed to guess the organic object used. --- Stan Murmur

I didn't want to spoil the surprise (which this link will do), but if you're not familiar with this, it's fun to guess at it before looking at the answer. I discovered this art several years ago, and apparently the artist has been in the news lately. Here's his website with all sorts of coverage of his painting methods. Be sure and click on the gallery for some very interesting pieces created with a bare minimum of... er... brushes.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Autodidact it must be then.

You paid attention during 91% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Found via Huevos Rancheros, a newly discovered blog. I got the same result that he did.

My result is really kind of surprising since I barely made it through high school. I went to 12 schools spanning 14 years between 1st grade and 12th (kindergarten wasn't required so I didn't go). We moved so much that I lost a lot of credits. My parents thought nothing whatsoever out of pulling me out of school 2 weeks before the term ended. I was never intended to be college material anyway, so who would care? Besides, my mother disapproved of me going to school and would write me a fake note at the drop of a suggestion so she could have some company during the day. (her recipe for a woman's success was "get you a man with some money".) I dropped out for awhile and went back later in another state and finally officially graduated but couldn't afford to be in ceremony or the yearbook. High School and Junior High were things that I just didn't attend very much.

If stupidity doesn't kill you, it might make you stronger.

The Darwin Award candidates for 2006 have been announced, and voting is enabled. If you're not familiar with the Darwin Awards, they are cases of death by extreme stupidity, thus prohibiting passing along the person's stupid genes.

Amazingly, an electrician decided to fly a kite equipped with a string extended with a length of copper wire, which ended up touching a high tension line.

A couple of kids decided to make their own light sabers by opening up fluorescent light tubes, pouring gasoline inside, and lighting them. [EDIT 1/4: I believe this nomination is being investigated for eligibility]

Trying to pound RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) into scrap metal with a sledgehammer...

There's the pastor who couldn't swim but decided that if Jesus could walk on water, he could too. Oops! Turns out Jesus couldn't really walk on water. [more at the link]

And speaking of Darwin, evolution, science, religion and stupidity, Grand Canyon National Park is now not permitted to officially estimate its geological age because of a Bush-planted Creationist, the Director of the National Park Service, Mary Bomar. There's a book for sale at park bookstores called "Grand Canyon: A Different View" by Tom Vail. (think "Noah"), and blocking the sale of the book by the Park Superintendant has not been allowed. Also, rangers and other staff are not allowed to answer questions from visitors about the park's age and origin by referring to science instead of religion. Will this Administration never end??? A day in the Bush administration can undo a thousand years of progress.
(pics taken by me at the new Maria's Taco Xpress)

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Friday, December 29, 2006

This Day in History

This is the day, in 1845, that Texas entered the Union and became the 28th state, an event that I'm sure lots of folks would rather have done without.

It's also the anniversary of the tragic 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee. This video is about 10 minutes long, there's not much I can add to it, just watch and weep.

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Happy Birthday Ray Thomas

The flute-playing Legend, now retired from The Moody Blues, turns 65 today! The Moody Blues and the Rolling Stones are the only two bands I can think of that have been a functioning touring band long enough to have a founding member retire. I went to see this band a lot mostly in the 90s. Huge fan, to say the least. Still a fan, but I don't follow their schedule anymore.

Here's a pic of Ray and the Moody Blues waaaaay back when, before the golden-haired Hayward boy joined the band.

From left: Graeme Edge, Denny Laine, Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, and Clint Warwick.

Friday Cat - The People's King

Here's Alex, the little King. He's not the King of the Cats anymore. They have figured out that he's half their size now (or less in some cases), and even though they're too nice to beat him up, they have no problem holding him back with one paw (even Duncan did that!). If cats could snicker...

Alex is still King of the Human Population, where the size of the cat doesn't matter as much, and attitude is more important. Alex got a depo (steroid) injection last week for his tummy, and is getting prednisone pills along with it, so he is also reigning King of the Steroids. He is sleeping a little better (thanks to the drugs). That tummy of his tends to keep him up all night, and if Alex is up... everybody is up.

Duncan update: he got an increase in his meds, and I am managing to pill him once a day for his decreased appetite, so he has been pretty stable. No news on him this week, just hanging in there. Everybody else seems fit as a fiddle... whatever that means.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Watermark on Sunday - - -

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Bear-ometer

Does this mean that the Bush administration is going to have to admit that Global Warming exists? Is the lame duck finally beginning to quack... er... crack? Like the ice?

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Wind, Wind, and Fire

A round-up of weird stories, beginning with brussels sprouts being given as a Boxing Day treat to a turtle, and creating cause for (the) alarm! [LINK]
[turtle fart graphic from Bikinicat]

Second wind: a prisoner may get some extra time due to a similar offense. [LINK] I guess it's just cuter when animals do it.

Here's a followup to a story I found through MB. The Swedish Goat from Galve has survived after an attack... so far... but has yet to make it through New Year's. [LINK]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Unresolved Resolutions

Looking back at my last year's resolutions Urg! The results have been disastrous! See my current comments in italics:
  1. Lose 5 pounds, just 5 stinking pounds. How hard can it be??? Now I need to lose 10 lbs. Still not technically overweight. One more cookie should do it.
  2. Start going to those Happy Hours at the Continental Club. Nope. Just went to one. On my birthday.
  3. Round up all this junk and sell it on eBay. Did I say junk? I meant to say rare collectibles in mint condition. Um. Nope. Made about a $5 profit on a CD.
  4. Stop being such a workaholic and take a whole day off once in a while. Not happening. Nope. I work 7 days a week, with no holidays. Sometimes it's just a few hours, but that still counts.
  5. Get a job that pays better with shorter hours. Got the shorter hours. Well, maybe not but now they're more flexible. Less stressful maybe, but definitely less pay. My benefits include spending more time with kitty-cats.
  6. Learn Spanish. How hard can it be??? I'm just desperate enough to sign up for that class for people who've taken a class and still didn't learn Spanish, aka Conversational Spanish 101 dropouts. Que? No hablo espanol. If that's messed up, it's because I don't speak Spanish.
  7. Come up with some really clever design that will be popular and sell it on Cafepress merch. Still a not-for-profit. I use Cafepress but just to make stuff for friends, and I don't mark it up.
  8. Finish making those curtains. ha ha, see #9.
  9. Fix the sewing machine, and then finish the curtains. Just got the needed belt and started fixing the machine Monday. I'm in my grubbies and ready to finish it now!
  10. Sort the junk on those old computers and get_rid_of_them. errrr. Nope. Waiting for the computer museum to make an offer, I guess.
  11. Dust that spot right over there. ...and it needs it again.

Maybe I should make a list of things I don't want to accomplish, and use reverse psych on myself. Does that work?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Movie year 2006

This list is rather skewed, because since I'm not a movie critic, I'm not forced to see stuff I don't think I'll like, such as Phat Girlz. My hub and I have almost the EXACT same taste in movies and TV shows, and that may be a little frightening but it prevents both of us from getting dragged to stuff we don't want to see and don't end up liking.

I already went over documentaries in another post, so here's the rest of the batch, best and worst. As I look over the lists in Oscarwatch, I see there are lots more still on my list to see.

Actor, drama (male): Leonardo DiCaprio, for The Departed or Blood Diamond. He was great in both of them, and he's my pick. Also, supporting Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond and Mark Wahlberg in The Departed.

Actor, drama (female): Adriana Barraza, the nanny in Babel. Also Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

Best dramas/action/adventure
The Departed, V for Vendetta, Casino Royale, Babel, Inside Man, Blood Diamond, Apocalypto (a Mel Gibson hurt-fest, but a good story that really puts you back in time)

Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Snakes on a Plane, Slither, Clerks II, Idiocracy, Happy Feet, Over the Hedge, Nacho Libre. Thumbs up for all of these.

My Razzie picks:
Most overrated:
Little Miss Sunshine
It was OK and not crap, the very last bit was funny (**the dancing part**) and it had good characters, but still not high on the list. The general public seemed to just flip over this one. We didn't.

Biggest disappointment:
Superman Returns, seen in IMAX 3-D
Optimum conditions for viewing, but the 3-D was lame, and the rest would have been just a pointless re-hash if they hadn't tried to turn Superman into Jesus Christ. Give me a break. You're crossing the line, pun intended, however weak.

Most over-hyped:
The Da Vinci Code... or "Duh Vinci Code". I really enjoyed the book, but not because it was hard to see what's coming. It's just a good page-turner. There's a lot more mystery in a Harry Potter book. The movie didn't measure up even to the book, except for Ian McKellan who was wonderful.

Dull, except for the eye candy:
Underworld: Evolution
X-Men: Last Stand

Eye candy and/or closure is sometimes reason enough to see something, at least on video. There you go, my shallow opinionated movie roundup for the year 2006. That's all it's worth.

Delete this post

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Celebrity Deathmatch / Lifematch

Here's a site that will match you up with your best celebrity soulmates. You can pick your preferred gender. Here's my result:

Your best matches
Andy Kaufman 98%
Gerard Joling 96%
Miguel Ferrer 95%
Peter Stormare 94%
Dennis Quaid 94%

Ummm. My top choice died in 1984. Does that matter?
Gerard Joling is a Dutch singer. Never heard of him.

Miguel Ferrer, another actor, looks familiar.
Peter Stomare, actor, I know I've seen him in a bunch of stuff.Now we are talking. Actor (and sometimes musician) with a Grin that's worth a million dollars, Texan, visits Austin a lot. I brushed right past him at the Continental Club once. Even with the beard he was sporting for the movie "The Alamo", it's hard to disguise that grin. He is most memorable for me in the movie "The Right Stuff".

My female choices would have been:
Angela Bassett 98%
Madonna 98%
Jane Seymour 96%
Patricia Heaton 96%
Belinda Carlisle 96%

Good thing I don't prefer women because Patricia Heaton is on my list right now... the shit list.

Found via J-Walk

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oil Canned

Women said peer was 'demonically oppressed'
...Two women fired from UT-Arlington told supervisors that they prayed and rubbed religious oils on a co-worker's cubicle because they believed she was "demonically oppressed," according to personnel records the university released Friday...
What these women don't seem to understand is that it's actually OK if you want to pray in the workplace (but not aloud), but what's not OK is rubbing oil all over your co-workers' cubicle walls, whether they are there at the time or not. That's why they got fired and the man didn't.

Duh. Ask Jesus for some good sense next time.

And in a way, their prayers may have been answered. They don't have to put up with that demonically oppressed person anymore.

The music junkie tries to narrow it down

Best concerts of the year! It's a tough one coming from the "live music capital of the world", I logged in 56 concerts, but count a day at a festival as "1" so it's skewed on the low end, I could add another 50 or more shows if I counted each festival show.

I will try to narrow down some highlights, and there are too many highlights to bother mentioning stuff that didn't impress me or a "worst list".

Top of the list is being on the front rail for the Rolling Stones at Zilker Park. It takes the entire SXSW music week to equal the intensity of that one. The rest are in no particular order. A lot of what makes them the best is purely personal. Sometimes it's a band I know or work for, and sometimes it's just the quality of the experience, the venue, and/or all of the above.

Saw James Hunter twice, but I have to go for that short acoustic show at Waterloo Records sitting cross-legged three feet away from him and his abbreviated band. He is really growing on me.

The Greencards at Momo's for SXSW, I have never heard them play any better than that, it was just smokin'. Saw them a few times, but that's the pick.

Nickel Creek: they played unplugged behind Yard Dog for SXSW where the audience is about a foot away (back up or you might get a fiddle bow in the eye!), and that was awesome!! Neil Young was nearby in the audience. They also played a fantastic sold-out show at Gruene Hall a couple of days later, I never saw them play any better than that. They played until the house pulled power, get on home now. Fantastic. Click on the Nickel Creek label for more posts on this band.

Steve Wynn and the Miracle Three are one of the best live bands I've ever seen. Check them out. Saw them several times at SXSW.

It was pretty sweet seeing Rosanne Cash at Waterloo Records.

Sonny Landreth and Cindy Cashdollar (with guest Redd Volkaert) at the Cactus Cafe. Great show in a great venue, and nice to chat with Sonny for a minute while he signed an autograph. A show at the Cactus is like seeing someone in a living room.

South Austin Jug Band, it's hard to decide between their show at ACL and the one right before at Mean-Eyed Cat in the drizzling rain. You get a dancing audience for them and it charges things up, mud, dust, sweat and all.

Clifford Antone's memorial at his club was about a 12 hour show and we only did 7-8 hours so we missed Eric Johnson (my favorite guitar player in the world) but did see an incredible heartfelt tribute. More here.

Eric Johnson, I have to pick the Antone's show with Ant B (a little extra jazz fusion flavor than usual), Mike Keller and Double Trouble, with honorable mention to a bluesier show 2 weeks previous with Keller, DT and Malford. Made extra special by having the opportunity to introduce Jeen Lilly to Eric. More here.

Calexico at Emo's, great venue for them, very up close and informal. They played Garden Ruin and more, and were super friendly at the autograph table.

Del Castillo... I'd have to pick the back-to-back nights at Antone's in July. Monte Montgomery strapped on an electric guitar and played with the electrified DC bros for the encore. I'll bet you never saw THAT before. Thought not.

You may find more pictures of these events here.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

People... in memory of, 2006

Another end of the year reminiscence, this time about people who died this year. First of all I think about people I met or knew in some respect. I think the toughest one to lose was ev brown (a.k.a. Jeen Lilly) (my posts: [1] [2] [3]), someone I corresponded with a lot online, and got to hang with a little after she moved to Austin. I really do miss her. Second there was Pat Cieply, who I knew through having done his band's cover art and from going to see them play a lot. Third was Clifford Antone (my posts: [1] [2]) who I saw so many times all over Austin, spoke with him many times just like nearly everybody else in this town has. He still seems like a ghost at Antone's -- when I go there I'm still looking for him to take the stage. I saw him at his visitation... no, I don't mean as a ghost. It was very sad. I think they should make him a statue, show him just standing there in Guero's Courtyard in his baseball hat and sport coat.

As far as losing more famous people, here's a site which has a picture of each person, and I find that sometimes I didn't recognize the names when I heard the obit, but the face was familiar. Here are a couple more. This one offers lots of links on the people, and this one has a longer listing.

Here are some that stand out with me. I edited down some of the descriptions taken from the second link in the above paragraph. Italics are my comments and afterthoughts.

EDIT Dec 25: James Brown -- only 73, too young. His influence on music is hard to measure. I think I still have one or two of his 45s from when they were still new. He was one of a kind with lots of imitators, but nobody close.

Lou Rawls (singer, philanthropist) -- "You'll Never Find, Another Love Like Mine", performed music for the Garfield specials, major fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund.

Shelley Winters (actress) -- Won two Oscars for supporting roles; exact opposite (in real life) of the bigoted mother in A Patch of Blue, married to Vittorio Gassman and Tony Franciosa (who died a few days after Shelley), wrote two tell-all memoires, played Roseanne's grandmother.

Wilson Pickett (singer) -- "In the Midnight Hour", "Mustang Sally".

Phil Brown (actor) -- An actor blacklisted during the McCarthy era, George Lucas cast him as Uncle Owen in Star Wars. Just playing Uncle Owen has made him memorable for me.

Don Knotts (actor) -- Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, the TV repairman in Pleasantville.

Dennis Weaver (actor, philanthropist, environmentalist) -- Duel, Chester on Gunsmoke.

Darren McGavin (actor) -- The Night Stalker and the classic A Christmas Story.

Buck Owens (singer) -- "Act Naturally", co-host of Hee-Haw, died hours after performing in his club. It's hard to magnify Buck Owens' influence on country music, and rock music too.

Gene Pitney (singer) -- Wrote "24 Hours from Tulsa", died while on tour.

Scott Crossfield (pilot) -- Died in a small plane crash. First pilot to break Mach 2, he helped train pilots for a re-enactment of the Wright Brothers flight in 2003.

Senator Lloyd Bentsen (politician) -- Democratic senator from Texas, Dukakis' running mate in 1988, Treasury Secretary under Clinton. You're no Jack Kennedy!

Billy Preston (singer/songwriter) -- Performed with The Beatles ("Get Back", "Let It Be"), wrote "Nothing from Nothing". I got to see Billy playing up close at Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004.

Arthur Lee: Leader of the '60s rock group Love, their most famous album was "Forever Changes". I was a big fan of this band. I am old.

Bruno Kirby (actor) -- Ed in City Slickers, Jess in When Harry Met Sally. I will always think of him as the Frank Sinatra-obsessed limo driver for Spinal Tap. He has a larger role in the deleted scenes that you will have to see on the DVD. Those are just unforgettable.

Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin (TV personality/zoo director/conservationist) -- Popular host of "dangerous" nature series, bitten in the leg by a croc. I believe this is the celebrity death that grieved me the most. It took me at least 2-3 weeks to get over the pure sadness of it.

Ann Richards (commentator/politician) -- The only deliberately amusing Texas governor of recent times, she famously said of George H. W. Bush's gaffes, "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." I wonder if they make them like her anymore. I hope so.

Ed Bradley (journalist) -- Longtime CBS correspondent, on 60 Minutes for 25 years.

Jack Palance (actor) -- Won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for City Slickers; scary in Shane.

Robert Altman (director) -- Brilliant, innovative director of The Player, Nashville, M*A*S*H, and Gosford Park.

Peter Boyle (actor) -- The father on Everybody Loves Raymond, and in Young Frankenstein as The Monster. To me he was even more memorable as Clyde Bruckman on the X-Files.

Joseph Barbera (cartoon creator) -- Creator of Quick Draw McGraw and Top Cat, partner of William Hanna.

Painting is Death in the Sickroom by Edvard Munch, c. 1895; Oil on canvas, 59 x 66 in; National Gallery, Oslo

Friday Cats and Mistletoe

I always get a kick out of that little cartoon (above), and if you are checking out at the supermarket (and who isn't doing that a lot these days?) look for the Weekly World News. Sorry for this small thumbnail, it's all I could find on their website, but the picture is hilarious: "World's Fattest Cat Saves Christmas".

We've needed a little cheering up over at the Texas Oasis. Duncan is seeing a lot of the vet these days, at least once a week, which he really hates. Today he got an X-ray to check for fluid buildup in the lungs, and there was some but we are going to hope the medication helps it. He has been pretty tired and not eating as much as we'd like. We have pills to help his appetite, but there's that four-letter-word: P-I-L-L. Even the vet had a terrible time getting a pill in him. Almost too stressful to be worth it. Poor little sweetie... this is his mellow, "I love you but I want to sleep" look, and he's got the perfect sunspot there too.

Henry is still jealous about not getting as much canned food as his sick bros, but he's been snuggling up with Duncan a lot. Henry knows his little buddy needs some extra care.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at IMAO - - -

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Documentaries in 2006

I like to do year-end lists. It's as though I have nothing better to do. I'll probably do other best/worst movies, concerts, events, and 2006 people in other postings. This one is just about documentaries we saw. This first batch are politically oriented and often shown at free screenings or in some cases available for download.

Iraq for Sale
Very important and informative. Teaches you some things I'll bet you didn't know about the corporations and private enterprise involved in the war business. Could have been longer, but they get the point across.

America: From Freedom to Fascism
Much more than I expected! It's actually 2 movies in one and I think that weakens it. It's basically about some little known facts about the Federal Reserve and the IRS. Very important stuff! Then in the second half it goes off in many directions so that your head is spinning. You need to have a clear head about some of these things. Also, I think the title of the movie is misleading and sensationalist -- but this is worth seeing.

An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore as we've never seen him before, and some very important stuff that you need to hear. You know what it's about already.

The next batch is ear and eye candy, a way to visit places that you can't really go.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold
Just a really delightful concert and backstage movie, with a refreshing editing style that's very natural for watching a performer like this.

IMAX Deep Sea 3D
This is the documentary to see at the IMAX in 3-D, or even just rent it, we loved it. Fascinating and the 3-D was sensational. It's a WOW.

IMAX Walking on the Moon in 3D (from 2005, but still may be playing in your IMAX theatre)
Kind of a cool informative show on the lunar space program, mostly for kids. 3-D is just OK but they are working with the old scratchy moon films.

Still plan to see:

Deliver Us from Evil,
Jesus Camp,
Shut Up & Sing

37th Street and beyond

We had our last warm night for awhile before the chilly air moves in, so we went down to 37th Street to see what people have put up this year. I heard a piece on NPR today about a display called Tacky Lights, but believe me, these people may be tacky in putting up too much, but on 37th Street they put up too much and it's also a creativity contest. Also it's always got a lot of political and cultural themes. This year, Dick Cheney seemed to be the most popular victim. See the totem on the right for a start (and I made most of these pics small for loadability -- click to enlarge).

The most famously decorated house on the block is a bit different this year because the house changed owners. I wrote about it last year. The old residents left the new ones a few strings of their artful homemade lights (like the medicine bottles) but they put up their own unique thing. For one thing, here's a wonderfully hellish nativity scene! The angel pic at the top is Condi (and I thought I was angelic!)

Here's the rest of the nativity. Rummy (looks good in orange, yes?) and Cheney with his gun. We were walking past this later and a boy (young teenager) picked up Cheney's toy rifle and pretended to fire it point-blank right at the manger baby's head. I was so stunned I didn't even get a picture of it!
EDIT Dec. 28: Here's an Austin Chronicle link on the display and the spectacle in general.

Here's another display at the same house. The sign says "Kinky '06 for Santa. HHO HHO HHOY VEY" That's fine, at least he's not the gov. That would have been as bad as... it still is with Perry. Oh well...

Here's one that's been there awhile. It's a peace angel made from auto parts and other metallic salvage.

Dinosaurs were another theme I saw. Here's a big foil T-Rex or Godzilla or something.

Another little dino group that was part of a huge display representing oceans and islands and not sure what all. Blue light beds for water and Nemo lights and mermaids and sea monsters.

There's an antique stove that's always decorated with different action figure themes (like Harry Potter or Star Wars) and this year it was Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest. My picture didn't turn out. :-(

This one was easier to see with the flash on, even though you can't see the effect of the lights. It's a Free Tibet major theme with lots of other elements. This yard was absolutely full of different creations.

Looks like Father Time is taking a break. The 37th Street experience was a bit different this year. The "major" house is gone, but it's still really great to see what people have done, plus it growing down into the other streets. It's nothing short of amazing, and of course it's absolutely free for the viewers (unless you feel like tipping the homeowners, and many of them do have tip jars. This much electricity ain't cheap.)

Here's one taken right in our neighborhood. What embodies the Xmas Spirit more than Old Homer J.? D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!

Dear Jeebus, please take away Dick Cheney's gun.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Ice Sage - Don't defeat the feet!

We saw Happy Feet at the IMAX theatre. That's the way to see it, but I really recommend it even on a normal sized screen. Not only is it absolutely delightful, funny, very well-done, has Robin Williams in it, and visually beautiful -- it's leftist propaganda. haven't you heard?

[Media Matters: CNN's Beck and Fox's Cavuto]
[Google search]

Oh yes, and it manages to makes penguins even cuter than they are. Hard to believe, I know. Hell has frozen over and the ice caps are melting.


Will this never end?

Poor Santa there has got "a case of the The Mondays"*

If you're slogging through the pre-holiday doldrums, here's a groove for you, a rare capture of local blues-jazz-fusion guitarist Dave Sebree live. Outstanding! I don't know Dave beyond the "Hi, how ya doing" level, but I love his playing. It's in the water, I'm tellin you.

*a quote from "Office Space" made by local film maker Mike Judge (better known for his cartoons Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill). It is a must-see for anyone who has ever had a job.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Bazaar Day

This is the kind of weather we've been having. Nice. Very nice. In spite of that we attempted to escape to the Antarctic for an IMAX viewing of Happy Feet, but have to settle for Sunday on that -- sold out, and the next one was too!

We found our way over to the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, which I highly recommend! All local artists, some fantastic stuff that we couldn't really afford this month, but I found this great t-shirt for only $7!! I love it! Also picked up a truly weird lightswitch cover cheap... AND... it was free to get in... AND there was free booze! I had a couple of glasses of wine... AND no, I didn't need the wine to be persuaded to get this shirt. They had a DJ which I thought was more conducive to shopping than live music, a little Nancy Sinatra in the mix and my boots are made for walkin'.

We'd already planned to go to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which is a very established annual tradition in this town. We usually end up going every year, mainly for the live music acts. It's $5 to get in, and this year we saw our friend Van Wilks, who was absolutely sensational! Yes, he's an excellent guitar player. He teaches guitar at the Austin School of Music, and also at "Guitarland" which is his own operation, and he had invited some of his younger students to show up at the gig and play for the crowd. Cutesters with their guitars and Santa hats. Anyway, the music is the best reason to go to this bazaar I think. It has the same shops every year, the same vendors, and many are not local. Also, no bargains. If it weren't for the bands I wouldn't even go. If you're visiting here in December it's worth doing. Year after year I would call it b-o-r-i-n-g unless you're loaded with money, except for the music. Just my opinion.

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123 Tagged!

Nick has tagged me!

Here are the rules:
Find the nearest book.
Name the book
The author
Turn to page 123
Go to the fifth sentence on the page
Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog. Tag three more folks.

The nearest book, OK, it's not the book I'm currently reading but it's a fairly recently read one.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
author: John Perkins
I had breakfasted early that morning, and the maitre d' gave me an odd look. I glanced around. Graham Greene sat alone at a table near the wall.
This is a work of non-fiction even though the 3 sentences make it sound like a novel, especially a spy-novel or something, but this book is unfortunately the real thing. A description of an ugly reality that exists in this world today, and the author was part of it before his retirement. The book has a website here, and this is the a brief description of the book there:

In this shocking memoir, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins tells of his own inner journey from willing servant of empire to impassioned advocate for the rights of oppressed people. Covertly recruited by the United States National Security Agency and on the payroll of an international consulting firm, he traveled the world—to Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other strategically important countries. His job was to implement policies that promoted the interests of the U.S. corporatocracy (a coalition of government, banks, and corporations) while professing to alleviate poverty—policies that alienated many nations and ultimately led to September 11 and growing anti-Americanism.
I learned about this book at our UU Church, where Rev. Davidson Loehr talked about it extensively in a sermon. That's one reason I love that man. Here's an interview with John Perkins on the Democracy Now! website.

tagged: Nava, Undeniable Liberal, Hill Country Gal

Things That Hallmark Cards Don't Say

My friend sent me these today. Many of us have been card-shopping lately, and doesn't it get frustrating sending cards to people with insincere greetings on them?

Heard your wife left you,
How upset you must be.
But don't fret about it...
She moved in with me.

Looking back over the years
that we've been together,
I can't help but wonder...
"What the hell was I thinking?"

Congratulations on your wedding day!
Too bad no one likes your husband.

How could two people as beautiful as you
Have such an ugly baby?

I've always wanted to have
someone to hold,
someone to love.
After having met you...
I've changed my mind.

I must admit, you brought Religion into my life.
I never believed in Hell until I met you.

As the days go by, I think of how lucky I am...
That you're not here to ruin it for me.

Congratulations on your promotion.
Before you go...

Would you like to take this knife out of my back?

You'll probably need it again.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Dad!
(Available only in Tennessee, Kentucky & West Virginia)
(ed. BS, that should be available in more places, believe me)

Happy birthday! You look great for your age.
Almost Lifelike!

When we were together,
you always said you'd die for me.

Now that we've broken up,

I think it's time you kept your promise.

We have been friends for a very long time ...
let's say we stop?

I'm so miserable without you
it's almost like you're here.

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy.
Did you ever find out who the father was?

Your friends and I wanted to do
something special for your birthday.

So we're having you put to sleep.

So your daughter's a hooker,
and it spoiled your day.

Look at the bright side,

it's really good pay.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Food for Thought

There's a research study out now that suggests that kids with high IQs are more likely to be adult vegetarians [HealthDay] [British Medical Journal]. hmmm. Wow! I would love it if I really believed this, and I wish it were true. (I disagree more with the assumptions made in the HealthDay article than the conclusions drawn by the study itself.)

First of all, 33.6% of the self-reported vegetarians in the study admitted eating fish and chicken. ummm... those aren't vegetables. When I started down this veggie road, I did it slowly, starting by giving up beef, then pork, then chicken... continued to eat fish for about the first 5 years of it and called myself a "fish-eating vegetarian", but you know what? That's an oxymoron. It doesn't exist. You can be "almost vegetarian" or an "evolving vegetarian" but not a "fish-eating vegetarian". So, their data are skewed by 33.6% not being what they are claiming that they are, although they've stated that the correlation is there nonetheless.

Second, I have known lots of really smart people either through friendship or association. Not only am I a member of Mensa* but I have many years under my belt working with scientists (as a support person). What the study suggests, in my humble opinion, is not borne out by the reality I've lived in. All I'm saying is that I'm a bit skeptical and would really like to see this same study conducted in the USA and other cultures as this one was done in the UK.

I now think of myself as an "evolving vegan". Not sure if I'll ever actually get there all the way.

Image from Lettuce Ladies.

*Please note that I am not bragging. I qualified and joined, that's all. If you qualify for something or win something, do you keep it a secret? Is there any reason to do that? It's not a big deal, and it's also not a secret. I'm just sayin'.

EDIT 12/16: This post is starting to eat comments. If you've left a comment and it didn't show up, or showed up and disappeared later, it's probably Blogger's fault. My apologies on behalf of Blogger (I hoped beta would make this not happen anymore! I've seen it happen a couple of times before)

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Friday Cats - lining up for the vet

Almost the whole gang went to the vet Thursday! 3 cat carriers, kind of a crazy way to do things, for sure. Jax is fine and just needed vaccinations.

Alex needed a checkup. He is recovered from the overdosing but still has major tummy troubles. He's still losing weight, is down to 6.5 lbs. and holding him is like hugging a little bone. Poor little guy. There he is, right in the middle of the stack.

Duncan needed a checkup, some more blood work, and another x-ray after his lung collapsed last week. The lung is functioning again now which is good, but he gave us a scare last Saturday late. He started walking funny like his back legs weren't working, and we were warned that something like that might mean a blood clot so we rushed him to the emergency vet. It turned out alright though, he started walking normally right away, but we were braced for the worst (and still are).

We've had beautiful weather all week, near 80 degrees, so everybody got to enjoy some open window time. Here's Duncan cozying up to Henry, and you can see the big patch that they shaved last week.

Henry has been acting a little pouty and maybe even grumpy, because he's feeling slighted. He knows that Alex and Duncan are getting canned food, and they have to eat it alone... mostly because Henry would just scarf it all down! And he's already what you might call "robust", maybe "hefty", OK, he's fat. He doesn't have a waistline, but he has a pretty face.

Here's Jax soaking up some sunshine and fresh air. We need a wider ledge, it's obvious.

And here's Duncan again, trying to look artistic in his photo.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at House of Chaos, and we can sure relate to that "house of chaos" thing here - -

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What's in that recipe?

Some recent gems:
[LINK] (Fava beans... serve with a nice Chianti)

[LINK] (Can we send these to Dubya?)

Yes, poking fun at Japanese typos. Not even commenting on how bad my attempt at Japanese would be.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Angels are badass

Where did angels get the reputation for being all sweet and goody-two-shoes? First of all, they seem to be all men... not chubby babies or cutesy-pie girly-girls. Second, back in Ye Olde Testemente earth girls were instructed to cover their hair so they wouldn't be tempting the angel boys. Third, you do NOT want to piss these guys off, they were scary. Everybody who saw angels were terrified, or at least stunned into acting respectable and doing what they were told.

So what are angels? If people ever saw them, what were they seeing? Space Aliens? An ancient Uber-Race? I love mythology. The old faerie stories from Ireland, and Tolkien's fabricated mythology in Silmarillion and other works describe a really fascinating creature of the type that many people through history have believed in.

Pierce Bush and the Queen of Austin

I saw this video over on Undeniable Liberalism, but it was created by Patriot Boy (Jesus General). It has a familiar... um... ass in it... and one not named "Bush":

The "sailor" there with Pierce, is none other than Austin icon, homeless cross-dresser, often Mayoral candidate, Leslie Cochran (who is famous enough here to not need a last name). Leslie [WIKI] [MySpace] can be found anywhere that big fun community stuff is happening, whether it's a festival or just walking up and down Sixth Street with everybody else.

As I commented on UL's blog, l'il Pierce has performed the sole positive and redeeming feat out of the whole family resume covered in the vid by posing for a pic with Leslie!

ps: who would name their kid "Pierce Bush"? What were they thinking? Even if he just uses the first initial with bush, it sounds funny.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Artist making house calls

This print was given to us on Saturday by the artist. He traded it for an agave plant. I believe his name (if I read the sig correctly) is [commented out, but you can read it on the scan of the art]. He's the bug guy, working for Chem-Free, which is a pest control service that uses environmentally-friendly substances. He had his portfolio with him, original paintings and everything! That's a real artist, never really separated from your creations. He was an excellent painter too. Beautiful stuff, lots of animal imagery. Paints murals too. And he enjoyed calling our "Rover Ants" by the name "Rove Ants" intentionally. Something you really want to get rid of!

Monday, December 11, 2006

No View to a Kill

Bill would allow legally blind Texans to hunt

Rep. Edmund Kuempel, a Seguin Republican, has filed a bill for the 2007 legislative session that would allow legally blind hunters to use a laser sight, or lighted pointing instrument. The devices are forbidden for sighted hunters.

Blind hunters would also have to have a sighted hunter along with them, but they could hunt any game that sighted people can hunt in the same seasons and using the same weapons.

"This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great," Kuempel said.

Visually impaired people are able to shoot with the aid of a sighted person, he said.

"I've seen this on TV before, when they're taking target practice," Kuempel said. "When they aim the gun the guide tells them, aim two inches higher or two inches lower and you're on the target, and you're off and running."

ding ding ding.... RANT ALERT!!

The fun of hunting. I've heard of this but never really understood it. People say stuff like, "well, it's just nice getting out there in nature", and OK, I get that. I've done that myself more than a few times. Camping, hiking, floating down the river, taking some pictures, sketching.

The part I don't get is the enjoyment of killing the other animal. Where's the fun in that? Is it watching the animal spray blood or flip over from the impact of the bullets? Is it the fun of asserting your superiority over a "lowly animal" by killing it with sophisticated weapons? Or even unsophisticated ones? If you just like to shoot guns, why not just shoot at cans or bottles or even watermelons?

Now, assuming it's fun to spy your prey, and know who and what you're killing because you've seen it, how big it is, the way it moves, how beautiful it is, what the teeth look like as they snarled at you (death sentence!!!! this'll teach you to snarl at me you snarly bastard!!!).... what will be the "fun" part for a blind person? If it's just getting out in nature and shooting a gun at a target and hitting it, a tin can makes an impressive noise when hit. Is there fun in stroking the dead animal and feeling and smelling the blood and knowing you were the killing victor? And is there some sport in being told, "Ok over, now up, now pull the trigger"? You never even saw the creature whose life you've taken.

All these questions are rhetorical and sarcastic. I don't need anyone to actually try and explain what they think is fun about all this, unless you are trying to make me sick. I think hunting for "fun" is disgusting and revolting. Killing in self-defense or for food is defensible, but I get my hot-buttons pushed when someone suggests that killing other creatures is "fun".

(note: the picture does not show a blind person.)
(I changed the name of this post to break a link from a pro-gun blog. sheesh.)

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Diamonds, Blood, Rush and Rhinestones

We went and saw "Blood Diamond" over the weekend. That's not a still from the movie that I have posted. It's an actual picture of a 17 year old whose hands were cut off with machetes by the Sierra Leone rebels. Source this page. I think that most people were not aware of the way that the diamond industry was being fueled by these horrible practices, and vice-versa (see links at bottom of post). I certainly was not aware of it until very recently, and now this new film is making awareness more widespread (and sending the diamond industry into a tailspin of reactive PR).

Gasbag Rush Limbaugh has launched a rant on the topic of conflict-free diamonds, and stop the tape indeed, I actually agree with him on one point. I really don't see how a certification can possibly guarantee that the diamonds you are buying are conflict-free. Bribery, smuggling, and undercover and unregulated corporate dealings are still very much in place. And whoaaa, hold the horses again, because he points out that there is no terror-free oil. I agree with that too. Oil is not something that I am living independant of, I wish I were. I wish we all were. But diamonds, at least as jewelry (as the issue is being discussed here) are very much a NON-necessity. Maybe I'm fortunate (or maybe UNfortunate in a sour grapes sort of way) but I've never liked diamonds. I've never understood why they were more valuable than rhinestones... maybe a little more valuable, but the pricing is outrageous. I was brought up to dislike snootiness, and it must have stuck. There is a scene in the movie (and not meaning to spoil anything... don't think I am) where they show how the diamond company stores its largest and most valuable diamonds... locked in a vault/drawer, not even displayed. I don't know if that's really the case, but it's plausible, isn't it?

If you think that diamonds signify eternal love, then you've obviously never pawned an old wedding set after a divorce. I was talked into a scratchy rock that stood up off my finger in a previous life (when I really wanted just a plain band -- but future mothers-in-law rule sometimes), and the thought of that jewelry set being melted down and recycled into something to symbolize eternal love for someone else bothered me not one iota.

As a movie, we really thought it was good, and that DiCaprio hit another one out of the park. Between this and his role in "The Departed" I think he's got a great chance at a Best Actor Oscar. He has really developed into a fine actor. Also, it's a great action movie even if you are more into that than the particular plot details... and there's a love story in it... hope that's not a spoiler... so something for everyone.

Links: Amnesty Int'l Conflict Diamonds and Human Rights
SPROL, article includes Google satellite maps and more references
Film Review Flick filosopher

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

War on holiday cards

So you think there's a "war on Christmas"? The reality of it is that there's a much stronger "war on non-Christians". Before Dubya got in there and fired up the xian right-wing, this time of year was more peacefully settling in to what it really is: an ancient holiday held around the solstice to honor certain gods or prophets, some of which have virgin-birthdays around that time... a time when people bring out their own particular choice of traditions that come from various influences over hundreds to thousands of years. It's also a time of year when people feast and imbibe quite often and buy things like there's no tomorrow.

I've always had a very weird and dysfunctional relationship with Christmas for various reasons, even when I was a Christian myself (many years ago). What it has come to be for me is a list of obligations that I would rather skip except in a few cases where it means getting in contact with friends. Mr B's family still require cards and simple gifts to be sent (and besides, he is not a godless heathen like I am, although he's a bit heretical) so we are down to just a small pile of those. Fortunately, although they are Christians, they are not of the evangelical variety (there is lots of wine at family gatherings), so they don't give a hoot if it says Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or what... as long as it's a nice card and not something with nudity like this, or something that's not rude or in bad taste, but funny is alright. My family, on the other hand, are of the other variety of Christian... Baptist, Pentecost, Assembly of God, right-wing protestant dominionist, blah blah blah etc. So because of the political climate that has developed (the war on non-Christians) I no longer send them anything. I don't want to potentially insult them with my secular greetings.

I'm rather stubborn, and rather than taking an "I don't give a crap, it means nothing anyway" attitude, I go with my conscience, so I refuse to send out cards that say "Merry Christmas" because that has become a political statement. Now see what you did, all you Christian Warriors? You've created an ugly divisive wall where there wasn't one before. I believe in tolerating other people's beliefs as long as they don't involve hurting others. That's why "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" work for me. There's shouldn't be anything offensive about them at all.

Holiday cards can be really odd, can't they? Look at the one above with the guy shooting at you (WTF?) and how about this one from the Swingin' Sixties? (click to enlarge, as always) What is that? Interspecies Erotica? (sorry, we just watched "Clerks II" last night, which is pretty funny if you like just a bit of tastelessness, and I do) Is this like a manly-man's fantasy? A woman's body with a trophy head? [snort]

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