Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finally here or finally found - music

Back to the routine today! I've been off from the "day job" since Nov. 19 - but it hasn't been a vacation. It hasn't even been a STAY-cation, it's one step down from that - a WORK-ation. That's when you take off work in order to get other work done. I've been doing that for many many years, so I might be unredeemable. I'm beginning to think that the cure for workaholism is death. I enjoy the work though. This is a recently completed project. It's CD art for Dennis Ludiker, who happens to be the Texas State Champion Fiddler (with a belt buckle to prove it), but I think everybody playing on this is a veteran champion player. It's an album of really fine picking (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass), progressive acoustic and some swing jazz. Really good stuff! Working on the website for it now, and also a related website. Full linkage coming when ready.

My main shopping indulgence (meaning "spending money impractically") is CDs and occasionally DVDs. I get a good bargain or nothing these days, anything not priced to sell stays on the shelf, and with the budget crunch on, I buy less quantity. This is a DVD that just came out, and it's an amazing live concert video from Eric Johnson. This is the only modern EJ full length live video you can get. He appears in the G3 video as one of three featured guitarists, and the Austin City Limits video was shot 20 years ago in 1988. This one costs around $15 and you can get it through his website (or at Waterloo Records locally)

Here is a band called Shearwater (like EJ, they are Austin-based) that, amazingly, I have only just discovered. They have a beautiful English prog sound, cross between late 60s/early 70s (think softer side of ELP) and Alan Parsons, plus a vibe from the Olde Days. Have a listen on their website, linked above. Yes, I'm enchanted with a new band. {sigh} I'm pretty sure we have already missed those "knew-them-when" days for this band, as they had a huge buzz during SXSW (one of the bands we didn't see), did a small tour opening for Coldplay (not too shabby) and are now touring the UK. Now I don't even know when I'll be able to see them, and I imagine their local shows will be packed and probably pricey.

Maybe SXSW next year will bring an opportunity to see them (hopefully free), along with giving me some *actual* time off.

Tags: - - -

Friday, November 28, 2008

Local color - late November version

Fall colors finally arrived here in Central Texas about a week ago or so. Nothing spectacular like you get further north, I mean, this is no place to come for experiencing fall foliage unless you are wanting to escape your own local colors, which might include lots of white. The weather is still beautiful. We are expecting another cool front... but right now at 9am it's about 68°. Aaaah. My favorite colors out now are still on the butterflies though, and there are plenty of them on the flowers. My recent butterfly pics all blurred. Sorry about that.

Thanksgiving Day was very nice. I got a big project (more on that in another post) completed the day before, so I did very little work on the holiday itself. We went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see James Bond, which we liked. In the street/parking area outside the theater, they had set up a full-sized movie screen and were showing the Cowboy game, followed by the Longhorns game. They had some picnic tables set up, and were selling beers and other beverages out of a cooler. It reminded me of the Drive-In movies that I used to love, except that this also had a great sound system. Normally I am really uninterested in football, but watching it at that size with such good quality (HD really helping the cause), and it was a beautiful, balmy night, I could have stayed for the whole game, just sitting there on a road hump, if Henry and Jax had not been at home expecting food and pettins. The Alamo doesn't make any money on these kinds of events. They just have a lot of style!

(Black) Friday is today, and it has been nice. No Thursday midnight visits to Neiman Marcus or waiting line line at 5AM at Best Buy for us. We do have a tradition of visiting a few local businesses, including Waterloo Records, and we did indulge in a few things (more about that later) (SALE!!!). After Waterloo, we went to the Obama Store at 1111 East 11th. They will be open until the inauguration, and they have plenty of great items - many designed by local artists, and others that are rather obscure. When they get their online store going I will post a link. Here's a zoom-in of the dressing room sign. ;-)

There are murals all over Austin, but the street we were on had so many in a small area that I walked around a took some pictures. All these are just sections of larger paintings.

Victory Grill

Tile mural

Public Library
This was so cool. They painted right over the Library letters! This one has a story to tell, but I'm not sure what it is. Not entirely.

After all that we went to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch: Koriente. Here's the back view of that you have approaching from 6th St. Great food that is really healthy too.

And they just so happened to have a mural inside that I really liked, based on one of the John and Yoko naked portraits.

Tonight we will stay in and watch some stuff on the DVR, and tomorrow, maybe the same. Maybe get some stuff done around the house... or not.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A few good things

Let's see... there's plenty to be thankful for this year.

MrB, for being a generally great guy, green gardener, composter, treehugger, water saver, indoor bug-catcher, cat daddy, flaming liberal, plus he vacuums and does laundry. Also, we like the same movies, TV shows, and a lot of the same music. He has shown great tolerance for me and my eccentric, heathen ways, without having them himself.

Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. There is now hope. It sure beats having no hope.

 My little furry babies. They are both getting up there in years (especially Henry), and costing us big $$$ for their medical, but I am happy to do that for them as long as I still have a credit card.

Austin, Texas. We belong here. We see friends and acquaintances everywhere we go. May the unique and creative spirits prevail over the ugly greedy forces that are determined to kill the soul of this place.

The music scene here in Austin. It's an embarrassment of riches.

My day job working for the State. It's part time and doesn't pay well, but fairly secure and I have health insurance. Also, my boss doesn't want us coming in to work if we're sick.
 The Alamo Drafthouse Theatres, where we will be tomorrow - enjoying their cooking (I'll have a pizza or veggie burger), tasty beverages, and watching Quantum of Solace (007).
 We lost enough money in the financial crash to pay cash for a new economy car (big OUCH), but salvaged the rest of it just in time so that we didn't lose our asses. We've still got shelter, transportation, and aren't going hungry by any means.

Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales have been indicted, redeeming Texas, at least partially, in the eyes of all the folks out there who blame this state for Bush. Now may they please have the sense not to do anything with them that can be undone with a Bush pardon.

Tile floors. Sooooo many reasons. And wearing flip-flops in winter, and nobody cares if my socks are funny.

Monday, November 24, 2008


...but not something you want to see everyday, at least not in person. What a site! Meteor crashes in Alberta, Canada. It came down on Thursday night and they still haven't found it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fake Americans

(No, not another Sarah Palin jab...)

When I first heard Lena Headey's real accent (TV's Sarah Connor, Terminator Series) in an interview, I was very surprised. I wasn't familiar with her previously, and didn't know she was British! Good job.

Christian Bale plays an American quite often, and I think does a great job (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Rescue Dawn, American Psycho, 3:10 to Yuma and more... plus in the upcoming Terminator he is John Connor). I've heard an occasional slip, very pardonable and hardly noticable. Here is the Welshman out of character:

Ewan McGregor plays an American quite often, but I think his accent is just passable - and really wish we could hear his real accent in films more often. In Deception, I would have liked it better if both Hugh and Ewan (good band name!) had used their real accents. What's wrong with having your accountant be from Scotland? hmm? Here he is describing his elephant encounter.

I really think the best American accent I've heard is Hugh Laurie (House). Listen to him out of character here:

More on the subject: [NPR] Foreigners Playing Americans Star In U.S. TV Shows

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The reason I could never live in Dallas

I still have vivid memories of that day. What really happened is something that history will never be able to document correctly. Too many people who knew things have now died. I have more in-depth commentary at my November 22 labeled postings.

Tags: -

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sarah Palin - Perky and turkey

During the 3 minutes of this TV interview with Sarah Palin, 2 turkeys are killed in the background. You may have seen a blurred-out version on MSNBC or elsewhere, but this one is not.

The purpose of her appearance there was to pardon a turkey, but this makes it all seem very surreal.

Furbaby Friday - Passive solar heat

Another installment in the Tour de Chairs. The weather has been great in the afternoon lately, and at least somebody has time to lounge around and enjoy it. The black lounger and matching fur on top are soaking up the rays.

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Also available: KKK Gay-Away Spray

[full description here] Assembles in just minutes! Includes simple instructions and requires only a screwdriver. The cross is compact when not in use. And of course, it's weather-proof.

Decorate this holiday season with the Original Christmas Cross to remind your friends, family, neighbors, and all who drive by your home, office, or church of the real meaning of Christmas.
Weatherproof! Isn't that handy? Don't you hate it when you burn a cross and rain or wind puts out the fire? I thought the crucifixion thing was for Easter, not Christmas. hmm. There are some things that this would remind your friends of (and enemies too... don't want to leave anyone out) (inclusive... yeah): 1) a typical night out for the KKK, 2) there's no way this house voted for Obama, and 3) get off my lawn.

This item is from the American Family Association, which is real big on the fundie issues, especially teh gays. They sell many things including DVDs which are designed to make people paranoid that gays are taking over. One is called "HATE CRIMES, Are You Next?"
A retired Christian couple were subjected to an 80-minute interrogation by police after the couple made a polite complaint to their local council about its 'gay rights' policies, which included making pro-homosexual literature available in public buildings.

It could happen to YOU.
The Hate Crime is a police interrogation of people making a "polite" complaint! The video costs $7 and only lasts for 10 minutes.

Even worse than that one is "They're Coming To Your Town," and the cover looks a little derivative of Yellow Submarine, except they missed the point of it. See, bleak, gray and fearful is Bad, colorful change is Good. Blue Meanies!!! Here's part of the description, sounds like a bad movie or after school special on a family cable channel, or a variation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Residents of the small Arkansas town of Eureka Springs noticed the homosexual community was growing. But they felt no threat. They went about their business as usual. Then, one day, they woke up to discover that their beloved Eureka Springs, a community which was known far and wide as a center for Christian entertainment--had changed. The City Council had been taken over by a small group of homosexual activists.

The Eureka Springs they knew is gone. It is now a national hub for homosexuals. Eureka Springs is becoming the San Francisco of Arkansas.
Love that last line. Who woulda thunkit? There's a trailer for the DVD at the link.

Space Station zoom zoom

We watched the International Space Station (ISS) fly over last night. It looked like a bright star or planet, and it took approximately 5 minutes to travel completely across the sky and disappear. Movin'!!

We did not catch a glimpse of any floating toolbag though. (The $100,000-valued tools still not as pricey as the Palin shopping spree)

NASA Space Station page, which includes this link where you can find out where it is right now, and when it might be flying over your house.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Al Qaeda trash talk

So #2 thinks he can get Obama all in a huff over a few old-fashioned racial slurs. Obama has had to endure worse than that very recently from Americans, everyone from everyday ignorant racists to talk radio hosts to members and so-called members of his own party {like Ms. "inadequate black male"}.

That guy might be Number 2, but I'll tell you what. He does not have Obama's number, and he doesn't know where his goat is tied either.

The Magnificent Seven


1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.

The Blogger Album Project (Left of Centrist) is collecting a list of what we think are the very best albums.

Border Explorer tagged me for this, and I do love to make these lists, but it is very difficult. I am not the most decisive person around, and my list is constantly changing, so here goes. About half of it goes back to what I think was the greatest time for popular music, the late 1960s (very early 1970s). There was something in the air, something in the water, and whatever it was, there was a great surge of music that came out that has stood the test of time as well as thousands of spins. I am only picking one album per artist, because several of these artists could each easily fill out my 7 best by themselves. I have linked to the albums' wiki entries.

Eric Johnson - Venus Isle (1996) fine a guitar player as anyone on the planet. Most people pick his Ah Via Musicom, the one that went platinum and got a Grammy, and it's a fine one too, every bit as good, but Venus Isle is still my favorite. Eric Johnson was born in Austin, Texas, and still lives here.

Nickel Creek - self-titled (2000). This album simply turned me upside-down. Incredible playing, perfect harmonies, I fell in love with the mandolin, and it was probably the first time I found my musical idols to be over 30 years younger than I was. They have broken up, but we are going to see the Watkins' (Sean and Sara) with Glen Phillips this weekend.

Loreena McKennitt - The Mask and Mirror (1994). Loreena creates a perfect blend of Middle-Eastern and Celtic sounds, with a very ancient feel. The Book of Secrets is really every bit as good as this one, and I love The Visit just as much too. I was dying to see Loreena playing live for many years, and she finally did a tour a couple of years ago - but now I have no funds for pricey shows in Houston. Those days are gone.

Moody Blues - To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969). It's nearly impossible to pick the best Moody Blues album, especially if you are picking from what they call the "Core 7." Seven albums released between 1967 and 1972, all flawlessly brilliant, not a skip-over track in the bunch. I could pick all of these as the "best," but since I’m trying to limit myself to 7...
Core 7: Days of Future Passed • In Search of the Lost Chord • On the Threshold of a Dream • To Our Children's Children's Children • A Question of Balance • Every Good Boy Deserves Favour • Seventh Sojourn

Yes - Close to the Edge (1972). This is a real masterpiece. Incredible instrumentals and vocals, and so tight! This album is like a journey rather than a song collection. Turn it up. Now LOUDER. Perfect. Jon Anderson has had some health problems lately that have kept him from singing, and sadly, the band has decided to tour without him. No… it’s not Yes. They are filling in with a singer from a Yes tribute band, but to me it's not Yes without Jon Anderson. This goes right along with the other bit of recent Classic Rock news that Led Zeppelin will tour without Robert Plant. That IS a Heartbreaker.

The Beatles – White Album (1968). Impossible to pick just one Beatles album. There isn't a bad track on most of these albums, and I could have as easily picked Rubber Soul or Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road. They are all very special.
Please Please Me · With The Beatles · A Hard Day's Night · Beatles for Sale · Help! · Rubber Soul · Revolver · Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band · The Beatles · Yellow Submarine · Abbey Road · Let It Be (well, Let It Be may not be up to standard of the others)

Joni Mitchell – Clouds (1969). Again, with Joni Mitchell, it’s nearly impossible to just pick one because she has so many albums that are perfection. Clouds is Joni in her most raw, folk singer/songwriter form. There’s a lot of melancholy here, combined with joy, and so much beauty. You can say that about a lot of her music.


...Oh boy, I think a lot of people I can think of have already been tagged, so I am not going to have seven tags.

I am tagging MandoMama, maria*maria, Ingrid. Of course, please participate voluntarily if you want, or feel free to untag yourself if you want.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The font is called "Lipstick Traces"

Hot off the press, straight from the Devil's Workshop. I really should try to focus more on getting some real work done.

Actually, things are looking up. It looks like Stevens has lost, so there will not be any substitute Republicans taking his place in the Senate after he wins and they expel him. She will be back though, back down here in the lower 48. The Republicans don't really have anyone else who's that strong. All in good time... all in good time.

Madhatter Project

This blog's adopted actor, Johnny Depp, in the earliest released image from Alice in Wonderland, his latest go-round with Tim Burton. The movie also features Alan Rickman, Crispin Glover, Christopher Lee, and of course, Helena Bonham Carter. Depp likes to weave composites into his version of a character. hmmm. I'm seeing some Krusty the Clown, not sure who else. Whaddya think?

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Poe wrote on both?
They both have inky quills?

According to the wiki on the mad Hatter, this is what the author had to say in 1896:
Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter’s Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz: "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!" This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle as originally invented, had no answer at all.

The misspelling of "nevar" was intentional, as it is "raven" backwards. [reference]

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adios Agaves: Mezcal worm takedown

I know we've got lots and lots of agaves, many of them are large, and most of them are the babies of this big mama you see above. It was taller than us... and the centerpiece of our wild backyard.

I was looking forward to the flowering that happens at the end of the agave's life cycle, and thinking that this one was probably ready to do that. It sprouts a huge, towering asparagus shaft with a good-sized shrubbery on the top and sprouting out the sides. (See the example pics below)

The 2 plants had been leaning to the side, then the leaves got soft at the base and could be pulled off easily. The rest was like a horror movie in the daylight. BUGS!!! The core of each plant was crawling with hundreds of huge cockroaches. These were the big ones, the Texas cockroach (actually it's more of a Florida cockroach, but it's not good for their tourism to claim them, so Texas is happy to do it*... but they probably have more of them). They say they are up to 2 inches long, but I swear, most of these were 3 inches and dark brown. Some were more like an inch and red. They were scurrying and looking for a new home fast. Other than a few odd spiders, the rest of the horror were the hundreds and hundreds of the worms - the ones that end up in the Mezcal (tequila is NOT supposed to have a worm in it). The weevils were there too, I just didn't know what I was seeing at the time amidst all the other bugginess. Click here to see closeups of an agave snout weevil and its red-faced white grub. In addition, there were the many flies that were attracted to the sweet, sticky rotten agave heart (which I would describe as smelling like rotting pineapple). We had to tear off each leaf, carry it to the compost or stuff in a sack, then the large heart of the plant had to be sawed into pieces (still filled with living bugs) and wrangled into a lawn sack. It was not only an ugly death, but I really feel the loss, especially of the big mama. I miss the view. I know that other things will grow there, but I hope that we never have to go through that with another agave (and I hate to say it, but another big guy in the yard looks like it's leaning).

The only green way to deal with this problem (and we are not going to put down chemicals) is to hope that resistant plants emerge. If they bloom, they are considered resistant.

More agave weevil and worm links and postings:

HGTV Agave Meltdown

Evil Weevils: Agaves under attack in Austin

*Texas tourism: Plano Cockroach Hall of Fame

New Despair

Friday, November 14, 2008

Freedom is for ME, not YOU

Have you heard of The Liberty Counsel? They claim to be working toward religious freedom. One of the things they mean by religious freedom is forcing all retail store owners and employees to wish everyone "Merry Christmas," both verbally and on signage, regardless of the business owner or employee's own particular personal religious beliefs. They are the ones who maintain the "Naughty and Nice List," (called the Friend or Foe Campaign) the naughty ones being the ones who use more generic terms like "Holiday" in order not to offend persons who have used the religious freedoms we are guaranteed in this country to choose NOT to be Christians. If anything in the world proves that Christmas is now just about shopping, it's that very campaign of people like the Liberty Counsel. They are targeting primarily retail stores. That's not their graphic on the upper right, just someone trying to show how they think their freedom is being taken away when people choose to use an inoffensive, respectful, generic greeting instead of their preferred one that incorporates their religion. I turned it around backwards below.

Of course, they are up in arms about the Humanist organization that has posted billboards and bus art that says "Why believe in a god? Just be good, for goodness' sake."

The mis-named Liberty Counsel are also working against enactment of hate crimes legislation that includes crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Yeah, just feel the love. Are you feelin' it?

CSNY anti-war documentary

MrB picked out this video, "CSNY Déjà Vu," and I just thought it was yet another concert video from some old favorites -- not so!

Neil Young, as you may or may not know, put together an album called "Living With War." He gave away the album as a free download, and put together this website, which makes all the album videos available, and collects anti-war songs from any musicians who want to submit them {it's a great benefit being able to be heard via Neil Young's site}.

The DVD turned out to be a documentary of the tour that CSNY put together in 2006, called the Freedom of Speech Tour - it was all politically-oriented music, and included what was often a VERY inflammatory Young number called "Let's Impeach the President." Strong crowd reactions were recorded in interviews from people who walked out at that point, but their views were just one of the views represented here. This movie is full of real people and tells many stories. They deal with war, and post-war, and politics in the country from Nixon to Bush. It's not preachy, it's people talking about their feelings and the stuff they have had to deal with... and there's good music too.

(Stephen Colbert is even in it!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Purrsday - Butterfly kiss

Henry is trying to align his whiskers with the butterfly's antenae. He loves this chair but can't sit in it for 5 minutes without ripping up the throw with his teeth. Grandma's crochet and Henry's teeth - not a good match.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nanobamas - a series of tubes

This is a Nanobama. This face is about 10X the width of a human hair. It's made from ~150 million carbon nanotubes standing side-by-side, which are grown by a high-temp chemical reaction. The photos of the little sculptures are taken with an electron microscope.

Why do this? Because it's cool, and because they can. Click the link above for more nano goodies, Flickr link, and learn how they do it.

Austin Obama Store goes to eleven

From the announcement email:

Open 11/11 at 11 am to 11 pm
at 1111 E 11th

Obama Store Grand Opening

1111 E 11th
Open seven days a week from 11 am to 7 pm
Extended hours on 11/11 from 11 am to 11 pm

Just a short note to let you know that the Austin based Obama Store is having it's Grand Opening today, 11/11/08 from 11 am to 11 pm at 1111 E 11th Street.

Get everything "Obama" at one place.
Campaign stuff
Tee Shirts (lots of kinds and styles)
Thanksgiving Dinner Drinking Glasses (available Saturday)
"Change" Purses
Tote Bags
Rally Signs

Coming soon:
Children's shirts
Caps and Kango Hats

Most all materials produced by Austin artists, printers, and workers.

Contact Information
phone: 512-656-6337

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend part two: Saturday

Who doesn't love dinosaurs? When I was about 7, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I had all the flash cards, books and plastic collections (which included cavepeople!), and could tell you all about each and every dino, and this was all heightened by watching the movie Dinosaurus! and stopping at cheesy roadside miniature golf courses.

The years went by, and dream jobs evaporated. These days I can't even name most of these guys, there are so many new species and sub-species that have been discovered. Here's one that I did know, Dimetrodon:

Not this one, though. This is not even a dinosaur, it's an archosaur called Postosuchus. It's an extremely badass crocodile ancestor. grrrrr.

All these (and many more) fake but very realistic-looking creatures can be seen over at Zilker Botanical Garden until the end of the month.

Almost as much fun as the dino models were the several dozen little wooden dinos that had been decorated by area school kids. Very creative and cute. Here's the Texasaurus:

...and the Keep Austin Weird South Austin Hippie Dino:

Saturday was a perfect weather day, and we did the dinos, walked some of the Lady Bird Lake trail. Lunch at Shady Grove took 2.5 hours because of wait times, but we definitely didn't even care. Cold microbrews and watching grackles sporting french fries in their mouths like fat cigars... and Shady has the best onion rings I've ever had... ever. It was a pretty good day.