24 April 2014

Blazing Saddles: Allegory or Documentary? A Photo Essay

Blazing Saddles
Bundy Ranch Standoff
Bundy Ranch Standoff
Blazing Saddles "Doo Dah"
Bundy Ranch Standoff
Blazing Saddles
Bundy Ranch Standoff

Cleavon Little as "The Sheriff" in Blazing Saddles
Barack Obama as "The President"
Gene Wilder as "Jim"

21 April 2014

Spring Miscellany

As always, click pic to embiggen Slide Show; mouse over pic for "secret" message!

Lily and Sasha in Yoga Class
The Square, Downtown Decatur
Wayne Shorter Quartet taking a bow
Atlanta Ballet Corps de ballet: "Hamlet", music by Philip Glass 
Pond, Japanese Maple, Rock, Fence 
Lorapetalum loves my yard 
When dogwood last in my dooryard bloomed
Green Season: Pollen residue after a brief shower
Canada Goose, black feet and all
Honk! Honk!
Hydrangea Tree

10 April 2014

This Week in Water

This week's This Week in Water focuses on some developments in the watery sciences.

A U.S.G.S. survey has confirmed that human fracking activity (i.e., the injection of waste-water into subshale layers to force oil and natural gas to the surface) is continuing to cause earthquakes in Oklahoma.

Satellite photos show a seafloor volcano in the Pacific Ocean continuing to rise above the surface and engulfing its neighbor.

The U.S. Navy claims it can now convert seawater into fuel, a move that may signal a move away from fossil fuel-powered ships. A similar method may even help power planes in the future.

Researchers at Arizona State University now believe a Martian crater once contained a body of water.

Underground oceans appear to be venting on Saturn's moon Enceladus, creating its so-called tiger stripes and a cloud of fine ice particles over its South Pole.

The 'tiger stripes' of Enceladus
Is Portugal a jellyfish? "The average adult human consists of 55% water. A newborn baby is made up of about 75% water. A jellyfish contains between 95 and 98% water. Portugal could be a jellyfish: it is 97% water." [It is making the case that its territory should include the extent of its continental shelf.]

Scientists are attempting to test the theory that simple metabolic reactions near ancient seafloor volcanic hot springs were the true incubators of life on Earth.

And here you thought you wouldn't need to do math for this episode! Scientists and mathematicians are trying to come up with formulae to accurately quantify "withdrawals" from specific water sites. Agriculture and energy (as opposed to consumption) are the chief users.

At least one U.S. President is now thought to have been killed by exposure to contaminated water—and as many as three!

A disc developed by students at the University of Virginia, called a MadiDrop, made of ceramics infused with silver, when dropped in water can produce clean, safe drinking water cheaply and could revolutionize access to clean water.

Three London-based design students have created an edible "blob" of water that you can carry around until you need it. This design could replace all those plastic bottles that take decades to decompose.

04 April 2014

I Want My Little Winghead

Smith, Verlaine, Fica, Rip
I had the good fortune to attend a rock show Wednesday night at the Variety Playhouse here in the ATL. Headliner? Television!

Tom Verlaine's virtuoso guitar, Billy Fica's precision drums, Fred Smith's syncopating bass, and Jimmy Rip's second lead (having replaced Richard Lloyd some years back) gave a somewhat jaded crowd of hip oldsters (old hipsters?) a memorable night of eccentric, edgy music. The show consisted of the entire album Marquee Moon (except 'Friction'). It opened with '1880 or So' from the third album, arguably the best song in the show except 'Marquee Moon' which was transcendent. It included 'Little Johnny Jewel', the band's first single, as well as an early demo and a cover(!) of the Count Five's 'Psychotic Reaction'. [Nothing from Adventure, though, to my chagrin.]

My friends and I had never had the opportunity to see the band before, though we all had bought the album when it came out in 1977. And we knew the music pretty much note for note. Yet, none of us had seen a show quite like it. Verlaine, though he fussed with it, never traded off his wood-grained Stratocaster. By the time he got it tuned to his liking, his tone was honey. Sweet. Rip never changed out his Telecaster either, but—and this was my only criticism of their performance—it had too brash a tone and didn't complement Verlaine's marvelous, subtle style.

It's hard to describe Television's musical performance. Are they the 'jam band' of the punk set? Are they jazz musicians self-limited to a rock idiom? Are they absolutely unique? I'd say 'yes' to all three.

What's clear to me, though, is that this is an original combo. They never achieved the commercial success of their peers like Patti Smith and The Ramones, but it's not clear they ever wanted to. They are dedicated to and provide a tight vehicle for Verlaine's quirky voiced avant vision of rapturous, contrapuntal rock music.

If you get the chance to see them, go!