Around town…

… this time with panoramas. These look best in full-page view. (If you can’t see the panorama, try a different browser. These work for me in Vivaldi but not in Brave.)

Right-click on the image to bring up a menu with different view options. The “little planet” view is pleasantly surrealistic.

Pour a glass of fortified wine

Congratulations to an English major who long ago lost his gruntle1 on fourteen years of The Port Stands at Your Elbow. It’s one of my daily stops and always worth reading. Before he decanted the port, Robbo wrote at The LLama Butchers. Both the and blogspot editions of the LLBs survive (though the pictures and comments are gone) and reward browsing. See, for instance, this touching account of a purple dinosaur’s realization of his true nature, or this subtle sociological analysis of a neglected aspect of Tolkien’s world.

Thoughts for the day

Joseph Moore:

The Great Books are more damaging than helpful when taught outside the traditions that produced most of them. I hate to admit this, as I love the classics, but if they are read as just a bunch of interesting books whose ideas are merely a smorgasbord from which everybody gets to pick what they want and interpret it as they see fit, the Great Books become little more than an excuse for unearned elitism, a closed mind, and the false belief that one is educated simply by having skimmed a bunch of old books.

In context, which is Christendom and the ancient civilizations it saved, the books have something worthy to tell us. This knowledge leads to humility rather than elitism, and destroys the canard that people nowadays are just so much more enlightened and intelligent than those old dead guys. Out of this context, the Great Books are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(See also “The Sign of the Broken Sword.”)

The Z Man:

Every day a Western leader publicly frets about civil unrest over food and energy shortages, despite the fact that the people have shown no signs of revolt. The reason the politicians keep talking about potential revolts is the same reason Washington is obsessing over fictional insurrections. These are people who think they deserve a revolution.

Faster, louder

When the weather is crummy and I can’t get out on my bike, I get my daily exercise on a stationary bicycle. Furiously pedaling nowhere is every bit as exciting as it sounds, and there is no convenient place to put a book on the cycle, so I crank up the wireless headphones and listen to loud and fast music as I pedal. I’ve compiled a playlist with frenzied tunes by artists from Deep Purple to Onmyouza to Brave Combo, but sometimes I want to hear something different. Therefore, I assemble speedy medleys of traditional tunes. Here’s one I finished (i.e., got tired of fiddling with) this week. It’s a collection of Klezmer/Israeli tunes, arranged without the slightest concern for authenticity. Subtle it ain’t, but it is loud.

For the morbidly curious, the tunes are “Khosid Dance,” “Flaskadriga,” “Sha Shtil,” “Lechayim” and “Ot Azoy Neyt a Shayder.” This is probably not how they’re supposed to sound.

Hank and Annie

Two more lilies are blooming in my garden, Lilium henryi, above, and “Anastasia.” L. henryi is a Chinese species that is supposed to be indestructible. Mine is four feet tall this year, but it can get over six feet when established. The stem is thin and willowy, so if you live in a windy place like Kansas, it needs to be staked. Anastasia is an “orienpet,” a hybrid of oriental and trumpet species. The flower is large, over seven inches across. The plant is supposed to get up to six feet tall, but mine is barely three feet, making photography a bit awkward. I expect it will grow taller in coming years.

Coming soon: Sherri.

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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.

Continue reading “Super duper”