Happenings fifty years time ago

Kim Du Toit came across this graphic and offered this challenge: “Your job, should you choose it (and you should), is to pick your five (and only five) favorites.” Let’s see… Something/Anything?, Machine Head, Trilogy, Foxtrot, Blue Öyster Cult. That wasn’t too hard. With a few exceptions, most of the recordings listed are not my favorites by those artists, or are from musicians I have little enthusiasm for.

There was plenty other listenable music in 1972. It was right in the middle of the golden age of progressive rock, after all, and not just in the Anglosphere. These also are fifty years old:

Back Door, Back Door
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso; Darwin!
Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, Striking It Rich
Gentle Giant, Three Friends; Octopus
The Groundhogs, Hogwash
Hot Tuna, Burgers
Il Balletto di Bronzo, Ys
Jo Jo Gunne, Jo Jo Gunne
John Renbourn, Faro Annie
Khan, Space Shanty
Le Orme, Uomo di pezza
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band et al, Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Premiata Forneria Marconi, Storia di un minuto; Per un amico
Procol Harum, In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Randy Newman, Sail Away
Richard Thomson, Henry the Human Fly
Ry Cooder, Into the Purple Valley
Steeleye Span, Below the Salt
Strawbs, Grave New World
Wishbone Ash, Argus

And let’s not forget Ashley Hutchings and Flied Egg.

I would have a much harder time picking just five from these.

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Super duper

Steampunk dalek

Some years back, Hutchinson, Kansas declared itself to be Smallville, the hometown of Clark Kent. This was an excuse to launch the Smallville Comic Con, held most years around this time at the fairgrounds. I spent a couple hours there this morning taking pictures of people in eccentric clothing, plus the occasional dalek and other oddities. It may take a few days to go through them all. Here’s the first batch.

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Requiescat in pace

A long, long time ago I came across a humorous/satirical website called The Lemon. It’s long gone now; as far as I can tell all that remains is the panel reproduced here. It was the work of Shamus Young, one of the crew who hung around Steven Den Beste’s place. He was perceptive and insightful on gaming, anime and whatever else caught his attention. Over the years he focused increasingly on gaming, but even so he was still worth reading. He wrote well, and his detailed analyses and critiques of games were interesting even to non-gamers like me.

And he was funny. The Lemon may be gone, but DM of the Rings, the one good result of the Peter Jackson catastrophe, is there to read on his website, as is Chainmail Bikini. It is not necessary to have played D&D to enjoy them.

Shamus’s autobiography worth reading, too. His account of his ordeals in grade school is sufficient reason utterly reform or just flat eliminate the education establishment. It starts here.

Shamus Young died Wednesday. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Milk and beards

We had a few mild days with little wind between storms this week, so I made a trip out to the nature center to see what was happening there. The answer is, not much. It demonstrated once again that, of all the fifty states, Kansas likely has the lowest ratio of native plant species to total area. According to my guidebooks, what few interesting plants there are that grow in the state are concentrated in the eastern corners. Out here in the middle of flatland, there is very little to catch the eye. The milkweed and penstemon were the standouts.

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In the cards

While I have little interest in most anime-related products, there are a couple of categories that I have found worth looking for. I’ve occasionally mentioned my annual searches for Japanese calendars. I also have a small collection of anime playing cards, which are much cheaper than figurines and more useful.

Unsurprisingly, the cards from Studio Ghibli are the best, both for the art and for the substance of the cards. Each card has a different picture, all printed at high resolution, and the cards are durable and easy to shuffle and deal. I have decks for Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and I’ll add others when circumstances permit. Right-click the images and open in a new window to see at full resolution.

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A quiet anniversary

A year ago this week I escaped from Wichita.

Overall, it was a good move. The neighborhood here is quiet. I can read without interruption, listen to music without competing noise, and sleep without being awakened by cruising subwoofers at 2 a.m. And I have an entire house to myself, with a real yard, an extraordinary luxury after years in a duplex. I don’t have to worry about my neighbors playing loud video games or bad music when I need to sleep.

Although where I now live is one of the larger cities in Kansas, it’s still much smaller than Wichita, and saner. In Wichita nearly everyone wore masks everywhere. It was common to see individuals driving alone with the car windows up wearing masks. When I weeded my tiny garden in front of the duplex, masked passers-by made ostentatiously large detours around me, sometimes walking into the street to avoid my malign aura. It was hard not to laugh. There’s been little of that silliness here. I’ve never seen any of my neighbors with masks. Some people still wear the stupid things at stores, generally either the very old or the compliant young and their unfortunate children, but they’re a minority.1

There are drawbacks, of course. I live literally on the wrong side of the tracks, and trains run frequently. I need to leave extra early for appointments in case I get stuck at a crossing. There are fewer stores of any kind, and those that are here generally don’t have selections as extensive as their big-city counterparts. I can find acceptable basic wines and bourbons at the best local liquor store, for instance, but not sherry or port, or Blanton’s. In general, if it’s not at Home Depot, Walmart or the local Kroger affiliate, I have to order it online. And I’m still in Kansas, where there is no such thing as normal weather.

Nevertheless, the inconveniences are more than compensated for by the quiet. I feel more at home here than I ever did in Wichita.