Sprung

Winter hung on like the respiratory crud that was going around earlier this year, but it looks like it’s finally gone. It won’t officially be spring until the first tornado watch, but I did find a little color on my visit to the botanical garden this past weekend. There are more pictures here, plus orchids here.

There’s a springtime jigsaw puzzle below the fold.

Continue reading “Sprung”

The king is dead

Dick Dale, the king of the surf guitar, died Saturday at the age of 81. I discovered his music late, when I listened to his comeback CD Tribal Thunder out of curiosity. Ever since then his spring reverb-infused twang has featured regularly in the various playlists I put together.

Dale never hit the top 40. His biggest hit, “Let’s Go Trippin’,” only went as high as #60 on the charts fifty-eight years ago. So what? Quality is at best weakly correlated with popularity.1

His signature tune was the eastern Mediterranean tune “Miserlou.”

Dale often did covers of other people’s music. When he performed them, they became Dick Dale songs, no matter who wrote them. The following were once Link Wray and Johnny Cash tunes.

Just wondering

(Via Borepatch.)

Is there anyone who thinks that daylight “savings” time is a good idea? I’ve never met any such person, yet twice a year every year I have to remember again how to set the time on my wristwatch.

There has been some talk about setting clocks a hour ahead permamently.1 Some people might find that advantageous, but for me it would be a pain. I keep an early schedule, waking up early in the morning and getting sleepy around the middle of the evening, independently of the clock. My mind is clearest when I first wake up, and the period between getting up and preparing to leave for the office is the best time to work on my current projects or do anything that requires care and concentration. DST robs me an hour of this valuable time. Plus, it seems that the more noise a neighbor generates, the more likely he keeps late hours, and DST encourages extending evening activities. While perpetual DST might be preferable to resetting clocks twice a year, standard time is best.

29 years ago

Evening classes at Wichita State University were abruptly cancelled Tuesday evening, March 13, 1990, because of a tornado warning. There was no obvious threatening weather visible from the campus, so the Fortran instructor and I chatted for a while in the student union basement. Back in Michigan where he came from, he told me, they had real monster tornadoes, not the tame little wimpy ones that frolic on the prairie.

Yeah, right.

Odds and ends: musical edition

The one memorable part of the otherwise disappointing series Ghost Hound1 was the opening theme, Mayumi Kojima’s “Poltergeist.” It immediately became one of my favorites. I don’t understand a word Kojima sings, but I don’t need to; the music tells me all I need to know.2 I recently came across a video of the song with the lyrics translated. Does knowing what the words mean add to (or subtract from) the value of the song? In this case, I don’t think it makes any difference. Judge for yourself.

If you want to hear more of Kojima, you face a challenge. Aside from “Poltergeist,” none of her most listenable songs are on YouTube. Your best bet probably is to locate a copy of A Musical Biography, a best-of compilation.

*****

I tracked down a couple of tunes mentioned in an episode of Hozuki no Reitetsu. Yutaka Ozaki’s “15 no Yoru” is probably best appreciated by adolescent drama queens, but the other, “Giza Giza Heart no Komoriuta,” by the Checkers, is not bad at all. (Epileptics beware: jerky video.)

*****

A long time ago, back before the last ice age, I received Malcolm Hamilton’s recording of The Well-Tempered Clavier as a Christmas present. I discovered a few days ago that most of the six-record set is now available as free downloads. The sound is very good for being digitized from vinyl. I can’t give the set an unreserved recommendation, though. At least two of the prelude and fugue pairs are missing, and there are occasional skips — true to vinyl, perhaps, but annoying. Still, the performances are good and the price is right. You can also listen to them on YouTube.3

If you prefer piano to harpsichord, Kimiko Ishizaka has released Book I of the WTC, completely free of any copyright and downloadable for any price you care to pay (including $0 if you’re a cheapskate).

*****

And now for something completely different: Jordan Peterson, performing with the Muppets.

The return of funny noises

I’ve been playing around with an old fiddle tune dating back to the interrupted presidency of James Garfield, “Democratic Rage.” Except for the piano and percussion, all the sounds are the u-he Diva.1

(Wonder what it sounds like on a fiddle? Here’s Dave Swarbrick. (I don’t have a good violin on my computer, though I’m looking at this one, or perhaps this one if I can budget it.))

The kawaii demon lord

Ken the Brickmuppet wondered a few weeks ago if there are any current shows worth watching. I’ve only found one tolerable this winter, Endro! The series starts with the hero and her companions defeating the regional demon lord. However, they bungle the forbidden spell and send their opponent back a year in time instead of sealing him away. There/then1 the demon lord finds himself in the form of a little girl, albeit one with horns and reptilian wings. She obtains a job teaching at the local school for adventurers, where she hopes to end the hero’s quest before it starts. Things don’t go according to plan. It’s silly, lightweight fluff — the hero reminds me of Milfeulle Sakuraba — but sometimes silly is exactly what I need.

Screencaps are below the fold.

Continue reading “The kawaii demon lord”

Odds and ends

The United States’ copyright laws are insane. Canada’s are more reasonable. I recently discovered quite a bit of Cordwainer Smith is available at the Canadian site Fadedpage. It’s missing some essential stories, e.g. “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard,” but it includes some of my favorites, such as “Under Old Earth” and “Western Science Is So Wonderful,”1 as well as many others such as “Think Blue, Count Two,” “A Planet Named Shayol,” the Casher O’Neill stories and, of course, “Scanners Live in Vain.” (Update: there is a fair amount of Smith at archive.org, though most of it is less convenient to read than the offerings at Fadedpage.)

There’s plenty else available at Fadedpage. A few old favorites: Till We Have Faces, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats2 , My Life and Hard Times.

Isegoria discovers my favorite of Poul Anderson’s books, The High Crusade. I gather there was a lousy movie made from it, but I have a hunch that it would serve well as the basis for a good anime series.

Those who know their Who might hear something familiar here:

(Via Dustbury.)

To the list of famous coke-heads, you can add a pope or two.

(Via Pergelator.)

Words of wisdom Further silliness from here and there:

Today’s question

Rod Dreher:

Did George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglass live and die so Adidas could sell more shoes?

Also, is it true that this is now “the stupidest civilization in all human history,” or does it just seem that way because we’re stuck in the middle of it? If ours is not the stupidest, which ones are dumber?

Slightly askew

Our Lady of Minas Morgul Church:

The above is for real. The following isn’t, yet. Winston Churchill, detoxicated:

. . . Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the nasty Gestapo and all the apparatus of Nazi rule, we clean-shaven Britons shall do our utmost best to be tolerant of this brute force. We shall even consider waving the white flag. We shall abandon France, we shall flee from the seas and oceans; while the enemy attacks, we shall make buttered scones and tea, while agreeing with everything superior feminists say without making one compliment about their appearances. Yes, there will be no derriere-gazing, breast-ogling, barbecuing or catcalling at these disinfected venues; any signs of romantic heterosexuality will be quickly flushed down the toilet bowl, with castration being the order of the day; we will act like obedient little eunuchs and keep our mouths shut and not hold the door open for any woman. And we shall lie in the sun on the beaches suntanning our toxic pale bodies, while shaving our legs with Gillette razors; and we shall plant daffodils in the fields and in the streets; we shall run screaming in the hills; we shall surrender for fear of toxic masculinity, and we shall worship our State masters, who love docile, brainwashed, easy-to-control, emotional, neutered clone-zombies; and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would be ordered to hide in sheltered ports, until, in Gaia’s good time, the New World Order, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of those pyjama-wearing, beta-males rattling their chains with joy.

Bonus high-culture music video (via Joseph Moore):

The crack in the tea-cup

It’s February 2, time to post another favorite poem. This year it’s W.H. Auden’s “As As I Walked Out One Evening.”

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

(The second and fourth lines of each stanza should be indented, but I don’t know a simple way to make WordPress do that.)

Listen to Auden reading his poem here.

Looking back

So, were there any shows last year that were worth watching? Let’s see….

Laid-Back Camp — There’s hardly any story: high-school girls talk about camping and occasionally pitch tents. What makes it noteworthy is the solitary camper Rin, who is presented as a competent, personable, well-adjusted introvert who genuinely enjoys doing things on her own, and who is treated with respect by the other characters.

Cells at Work — The red blood cell focal character is overly ditzy, but otherwise this is probably the finest example of educational entertainment ever produced.1

We Rent Tsukumogami — It looks I’m going to have to sit still long enough to write a proper review of this underappreciated small-scale detective series, since apparently no one else has noticed it. Another time, maybe.

Nobunaga no Shinobi — The third season felt a little more forced and wasn’t quite as funny as the first, but it had its moments.

Hozuki no Reitetsu — I was about to cancel my Crunchyroll subscription, but at the last moment they added the second and third seasons of the series centered around Enma’s chief of staff, and I relented. The first season is still the freshest, but the newer episodes are nevertheless generally at least good and often very funny. Hozuki is probably the show from last year I enjoyed most. There are many more screencaps below the fold.

The above I can recommend. I also watched the rest of the much-praised Planet With, which I had earlier been unimpressed with. It turned out to be Gurren-Lagann-lite, watchable, but with preachiness instead of spiral energy. Cardcaptor Sakura: the Misdeal spent too much time being nice and too little telling a story. Possibly the eventual continuation might redeem it, but I’m not optimistic.

Continue reading “Looking back”

Girls, wolves, guns

Here is the true and proper retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

The Little Girl and the Wolf
by James Thurber

One afternoon a big wolf waited in a dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. “Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?” asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood.

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother’s house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.

This story is presented as a service for those who watched the first episode of Grimms’ Notes: The Animation, an undistinguished recent offering from Crunchyroll.