Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Bloggy, Bloggy Dew

I've wanted to mix these for years. Thank you, Universal Music Group.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

what's behind the mask

Last night, after months of delays, and in the aftermath of a snowpocalypse of historic proportions, I tried out a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP. Some of my best friends swore their praises and curses of the machine, which either sung them into a device-assisted date with sandman, or made them to claw at their faces and sleep unadorned.

I didn't claw. As uncomfortable as this looks, I had a much better night's sleep than the last time I was so nocturnally wired. Because this time I was masked. Thanks to this Darth Vader-like apparatus I breathed in not only positive air pressure but clean and more or less allergen-free air, with the added benefit of a humidifier. The sleep center had moved to a new facility just weeks before, and the mattress - which turned out to be simply a big cushion on top of the standard hospital-issue slab - was more comfortable by far than the hospital sleep lab. I did miss the Soylent Green-flavored relaxation videos piped into the hospital sleep lab, replaced this time with the Charlie Brown Christmas special and a news report on adopted children finding their birth parents. But the bedroom was decked with artwork that reminded me of the big sleep of Edward G. Robinson.

when it's sleepytime down south

I woke wanting more sleep, but feeling like I actually slept.

that's me!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Linda and Aisling, the Scriveners

Not all musical Liverpudlians were as cuddly as the Fab Four. The Fab lapinfille brought to my attention as a case in point the Reynolds Girls, one-hit wonders who are at a considerable disadvantage already by being just two and furthermore by not being Fab. Produced by the law firm of Stock Aitken and Waterman, who issued their relentless briefs and shook up the legal airwaves with such hits as Dead or Alive's "You spin me round" and the collected works of Kylie Minogue, "I'd rather Jack" ratcheted up the UK charts to number 8 in 1989. Once heard, it can't be forgotten, no matter how much you try. Once seen, the video cannot be shaken from memory, and the questions spin right round like a record round round round: What teenager would let themselves out of the house wearing that? What contest did les filles Reynolds win - and who lost? Why are there people like Frank? What exactly is "Jack"?

"Jack," as the blonde Reynolds explained in a television interview at the time, is a dance, liberally speaking. But the ambiguity of the lyrics is hard to ignore, suggesting that the girls would rather masturbate than Fleetwood Mac. Here across the pond, the youth of my generation happily integrated the two, though in the case of Tusk, with some difficulty.

Accordion to their wikipedia entry, Les Reynolds failed to chart with their next single "Get Real," and the sample available on their MySpace page makes the reason clear: they were calling for nothing less than working class revolution.

i'd rather, Jack

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

if you gotta go, go now

This year's model

As the snow falls on our little burgh and the Christmas tree is lit on the town square and we candy the oysters to leave for Santa when he visits our cozy cave, remember 'tis the season for another yuletide tradition to warm the cockles: the Charmin holiday restrooms in Times Square. Next door to what just last year was the Virgin Megastore and is today a gaping maw of unutilized commercial space in the center of New York's Disneyland Theme Park, the Charmin base camp employs blue and pink-decked elves of unusually perky demeanor given their holiday employment requires cheerfully inviting the teeming masses to come and void their bowels, with no expectation to void their pockets, for this is free like America.

the kindness of strangers
Last year at Marienbad

Not only do the elves shuttle customers in and out of the free receptacles, but they clean up after the teeming, voiding masses. And they sure are happy to do it! Perhaps no-one is happier with his seasonal vocation than Charmin Guy. The most gregarious of Procter and Gamble's holiday charges is closing in on 2,000 frends on the Facebook. I am one of them, and can track how many happy customers tag him in their holiday photos. Here he is recording a testimonial behind the arras of a new feature for 2009, the Canfessional:

I attended this public bacchanal for the first time last Christmas.

and now for a word from our sponsor

Sadly, this year they have dispensed with the sleigh and have offered in its stead a photo op of more commercially appropriate but none-too-festive means:

These are the times that try men's duodena, but I'd like to hope that the out-of-work actors who make this a joyous and mostly hygienic season (it looks like somebody missed a spot on the floor of the receptacle I used monday afternoon) will take this experience off-off-Broadway and transform their economic suffering into avant-garde suffering. It can't be any worse than starring Willem Dafoe opposite a giant duck with stigmata.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Black and WTF Like Me


My contribution to Black and WTF , found as is in a volume of House and Garden from 1948; coincidentally, the same year Joseph Cornell designed a holiday cover for the magazine.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

@BoltBus blogging

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Bus blogging

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Friday, December 04, 2009

American Masters: Rick Dees

Over the transom from lapinfille comes Rick Dees's companion piece to "Bigfoot" and "Disco duck." Any single one of these records may seem like no more than cheap novelty with a driving beat, but the cumulative effect of these dismissed if not forgotten lipstick traces of the nineteen-seventies is more troubling than bell bottoms. Dees is clearly fascinated with modern man's increasing distance from nature, meaning not only natural environment but his own animal instincts. These treatises on bodily transformation are mined in the rich vein of his contemporaries Davids Johansen, Cronenberg, and Bowie. Today, Dees lords over America's Top 40, and while Lady Gaga may traffic in personal identity a la Bowie, and Mariah Carey has shed her secret life as Chewbacca, we can only hope that as Taylor Swift grows into adulthood she throws her remarkable poise and skills into her own cryptozoological project. I think I'll tweet this at her.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bus blogging

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Lunch blogging

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bus blogging

Eastern Avenue and Twelfth Street

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday sales blogging

Melody Records, Washington, D.C. Support your local merchants this holiday season.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TV Review: The Jazz Baroness

first published on blogcritics.org

If I told you I'd just seen a documentary made by the descendant of a beautiful English heiress, you might wonder if it was some kind of vanity project about fine china and silverware and the upper clahsses. The Jazz Baroness indeed depicts sundry accoutrements of the landed gentry, but it is more than that: it tells the story of an unlikely friendship between the titular baronesss and one of the great figures in jazz music, Thelonious Monk.

Hannah Rotshchild produced, wrote and directed The Jazz Baroness, which premieres on HBO on November 25th. Like the Jackie Paris documentary I reviewed earlier this year, the picture is framed as a quest, but in this case it is not the quest of a record collector; Rothschild is the great-niece of Pannonica de Koenigswarter (nee Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild), which makes hers no less than a quest for family and identity. She follows the breadcrumbs left behind by her aunt, who she met for the first time only a few years before few times before the Baroness's death in 1988. These breadcrumbs happen to lead her to Thelonious Monk, who met the Baroness in 1954.

Their backgrounds could not have been more different: he grew up in rural North Carolina, she was raised on banquets hosting the great leaders of Europe. But from their first meeting grew an intimate friendship that lasted till Monk's death 28 years later (Monk penned one of his most lovely ballads, "Pannonica," for her). The documentary is very much about class and race; and, although it may be a cliche, about how music can profoundly bridge the gap between the differences that society builds between people - differences which in the end are arbitrary. Rothschild (whose words are read by Hellen Mirren) left behind a life of English manorial comfort in order to live a life among the be-bop elite in New York City. If the director'send result of the director's quest for identity is only hinted at, it is clear that her great-aunt, though very far from home, found herself indeed.

Hannah Rotshchild admits at the start that she did not enter this project a jazz expert; and at the end, she admits she still isn't. But the sensitive use of the music, and respect for the musicians she speaks with (Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, and Quincy Jones among them) belies her modesty. Her film is no replacement for Charlotte Zwerin's documentary Straight, no Chaser, but it is a fine companion piece.

I was in a Starbucks recently and heard Monk's solo version of "Ruby, My Dear," one of the great jazz ballads. That I was not surprised to hear it in a Starbucks says something about how far jazz music has come, since it's perception as a forbidding art music to what someone searching for a venti soy caramelmachiatto might consider merely pleasant background music. But if some pilgrim on their caffeinated quest might pause long enough to listen, and find something in the music that resonates with them; then it would seem that THeolnious Monk hasn't lost his touch with the gentry. Sweet.

Lunch blogging

Saturday, November 21, 2009

a brief history of hoarding: the library book sale

The library where I work has an annual book sale, and I've been going every year since I started working there many moons ago. This year I donated a Macy's bag full of books. I never buy more than I donate - not even close - but somehow the scattershot weeding I do to fill up that shopping bag of donations seems to clear less space than the scattershot things I buy; some of which goes home, much of which clutters my office years later.

british sheep breeds

I had this taped to my office door for several years. It's still in my office, but I took it down this year to scan it and I never put it back up, giving me an unobstructed view of the American flag themed tissue paper that my industrious project team members used to plastered our office doors.

the interview

From the 1983 Betamax video Japanese electronic industry -- entry into the future. You never see the woman's face during this brief creepy interview. Her hair bobs slightly as she nods.

This year's book sale was fruitful, and with the increasing quality of cellphone cameras, I can faithfully document the materials I don't buy.

I didn't buy this:

the warren oates memorial cable knit

I did buy this:

for a long time, i used to go to bed early

And this:

and whiskers on kittens

I didn't buy this:

But I bought this:

I should weed this weekend.

cats and kittens in colour

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the three burials of timothy carey

Timothy Carey is my favorite character actor. His 6' 4" frame and menacing looks got him plenty of work as a noir heavy, and an often uncredited one at that; it's not for nothing that he's listed in the cast for Shock Treatment as "Hulking patient." His scene-chewing walk-ons would be enough to land him in the darker annals of Hollywood legend, a kind of demonic Edward Everett Horton. Imagine for a moment that Carey was born a generation or two sooner and had a recurring role in the Fred and Ginger movies; perhaps Hermes Pan would have recognized a kind of grace in seventy-six inches of mean lank and, on the merits or at knifepoint, given the man a dancing role?

But Carey wasn't your ordinary character actor, and his was not an ordinary career. To crib from the notes I wrote for a brief Timothy Carey film series I curated for a now defunct repertory program in Washington, D.C., : [Carey] was known to go to unusual lengths to get a role. Hoping for a part in Prince Valiant, he donned medieval robes and climbed a fence to brandish a knife at Henry Hathaway. At a casting call for The Godfather, he shot blanks at Francis Ford Coppola, who returned fire with glee. Carey didn’t get either of those parts, though Coppola kept trying to hire him anyway. Not satisfied with chewing somebody else’s scenery, Carey directed himself in the notorious underground film The World’s Greatest Sinner, and upon his death was working on a stage production of a play he called "The Insect Trainer," a salute to the irrepressible creative energy of flatulence.

I recently looked up Timothy Carey in a database of historical newspapers and found a number of intriguing items:

New York Times, May 8, 1957
Missing US Actor is Found

MUNICH, Germany, May 7 (Reuters)--Timothy Carey, 31-year old Hollywood actor who disappeared from his hotel here sunday night, was found gagged and handcuffed on a lonely road outside Munich this morning, the police said here today. They said the actor had hitched a ride in a car driven by two English-speaking men, who held him at gunpoin, robbed him of $40 and finally dumped him by the roadside
One's natural first response is, "What kind of thug holds up Timothy Carey?" My dear fellow American suggests an intimidation level of three Klaus Kinksi's, but I'm not sure that even an unholy trinity of Communist Kinksi's could strike that much reckless fear into the eyes of this fallen American Carey.

But what further intrigued me, upon scrolling reel after reel of virtual microfilm, was that the name Timothy Carey was associated with an uncanny violence in at least two previous iterations.

New York Times, July 5, 1887

Ellen Carey, the wife of a cripple, Timothy Carey, living at Tenth Avenue and One-hundred and Fortieth Street, commited suicide yesterday by taking a dose of rat poison. She had been quarelling all night with her husband, and about 7 o'clock in the morning resorted to force, striking him a severe blow with a stick of wood. She then drank the contents of a teacup, afterward found to have contained poison, and died almost immediately.

The deceased had been known as a woman of violent temper, approaching at times to insanity. During Mr. Cleveland's Administration as Governor she was pardoned from state prison after serving two years of a life sentence for arson. She had been convicted of setting fire to a house belonging to her sister.

Finally, this item, which despite the chronological proximity to the previous tragedy, is, owing to the manner of injury, unlikely to be a document of the widower Carey.

New York Times, September 28, 1897
Timothy Carey Picked Up Near Vineland, N.J., with a crushed head.
VINELAND, N. J:, Sept. 27.--Timothy Carey, a bicyclist, was found lying unconscious in the middle of the road near this place to-night. His head was badly crushed, and it is probable he will die. His bicycle, a light racing machine, was lying beside him totally wrecked. It is not know how he was hurt.

Good night, sweet three Timothy Careys, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

a merry carey christmas

Subway blogging

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Lunch blogging

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lunch blogging

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Soup blogging

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Soup blogging

And the radio played Pet Clark.

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Breakfast blogging

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random thoughts before coffee blogging

come and take my skull for a ride

It occured to me the other night, after having watched my fourth episode of Ghost Adventures, that the same technology that brings us the glowing-eyed baggy-panted ghost hunters provoking the cantankerous dead in monochromatic green -- these are the same night vision cameras that brought us the Paris Hilton sex tape, in which she coitus interruptussed to answer her cell phone.


My new HTC Droid Eris cell phone is the modest little step-sister to the Motorola Droid, the streamlined Mini Cooper to its Hummer, the modest Joanie to its overbearing Chachi. It lacks a keyboard, and the spell check is quirky. Trying to text someone that I was feeling sick, I almost texted that I was feeling freckles.

wish you were here

A week ago I was in New York, where I saw Mama, Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away! , a film program of home movies at the Museum of Modern Art. Among the revelations were color home movies of Joan Crawford circa 1943. Sunbathing. Nude. She had freckles.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bus blogging

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Dinner blogging

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Breakfast blogging

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lunch blogging

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bus blogging

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