Sunday, June 28, 2009

best michael jackson tribute

Maybe from prisoners on the Phillipine Island of Cebu; here they dance to Ben. Say what you want about The Gloved One but not only could he bust some badass moves, he made you sing along to a rat. Not many performers could do that. Remy (from Ratatouille) owns him a debt of gratitude for paving the way.

sasha baron cohen comes out

Producers of the film Bruno, during last minute edits (by this we mean within the last 24 hours before the Hollywood premiere), cut a scene from the movie where Bruno (Sasha Baron Cohen) tricks LaToya Jackson into giving up her single gloved and previously alive brother's phone number. Talk about a gay movie move.

Friday, June 26, 2009

mixed-raced men can't dance?

Well at least Michael Jackson figured out a way to continue to remain controversial, even in his death. What's the death of a famous person without the suspicion of a drug overdose-accidental or on purpose?

One thing troubles me though and it should trouble you. Biggie O can't even give a shout out to a brother who's been lost down the troubled road of fame? An American brother as famous as Michael Jackson? Sure Micheal has some high negative numbers but the dude was huge. Bigger, yes, than Elvis. Than Princess Di. As big, if not bigger than Muhammad Ali. Has there ever been a bigger American star than MJ? Come on, Biggie, "Loosen up!" I'm beginning to believe that old saw - mixed race men can't dance.

Photo: White House Photo Office, National Archives via Wikipedia Commons

blessed are the peacemakers

Some blog responses to NYTimes Headline, "Pastor Urges His Flock to Bring Guns to Church"

What would Jesus pack?

"God and guns were part of the foundation of this country"
So were slaves.

Psalm 23, revised: His Rod and His Ammunition comfort me.

M.o.i.'s response. "Blessed are those who carry the Colt .45 Peacemaker."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

king of pop;queen of the flip do

The near simultaneous passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett can only mean, and this is something that you seldom hear me say, "That the Lord must work in mysterious ways.

Michaeal was tweating back in the 70's.

warrior ant press: summer reading list

Warrior Ant Press casts a shade tree shadow on some summer books.

Gone Tomorrow: A Reacher Novel, Lee Child. Delacorte Press, 2009. Fiction noir at it's best. With a little Homeland Security profiling thrown in the mix to stir up the melting pot.

Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed, Marc Blatte. Schaffner Press, 2009. Suggested subtitle: The Effrontery of Street Cred. This book received more critical attention than it deserved; proof that connections in the Hamptons do matter and coy marketing slogans like hip-hop noir sell books. Don't kid yourself or let me dupe you into thinking it wasn't a decent read because it was; perhaps the sequel will lose some of the pretense.

Small Crimes, Dave Zeltserman. Serpent's Tail, 2009. Pushes fiction noir off a cliff. You'll find yourself jumping after the 1st paragraph.

God Says No, James Hannaham, McSweeneys Rectangulars, 2009. Despite, at times, reading like a book published through a politically correct lens you might want to say yes.

Bright Shining Morning, James Frey. Harper Perennial. 2009. Frey's editors appeared to have given him considerable leeway so as to put as much distance between his last book and Oprah. Frey's latest is interesting and funny. Weird thing though. This book, a work of fiction, has an ongoing relationship with factoids. Frey likes the joke, although three-fourth's of the way through the text I stopped caring so much about the laughs (the punchline is always LA) and wanting more character. Maybe for his next book Frey will let go of the facts entirely and stick with truth.

City of Refuge, Tom Piazza. Harper, 2008. Just because books are written to bring attention to Katrina and its aftermath has little bearing on their depth of meaning, the soul of the place, and whether or not you should read them. There's only so much room; leave this one behind when planning an evacuation.

Candide, Voltaire, translated by Theo Cuffe. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2005. Everyone is clamoring for Hope, but Optimism was a philosophy that came before. Steep yourself in its mirth.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone, August Wilson. Theatre Communications Group, 2008. Unlike Biggie O and Mother Michelle I wasn't able to make it to the Lincoln Center revival but the exerts I've seen have me pining for a stimulus check and a week along The Great White Way. August Wilson is destined to replace Tennessee Williams as America's greatest playwright. Get some today.

My Dinner with Andre: Screenplay for the Film by Louis Malle, Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. Grove Press, 1981. You and a friend decide to have dinner at a local restaurant to catch up on each other's lives. In the past this was a regular occurrence but it's been awhile since you've talked over a slow meal. History would suggest that usually the food is decent, sometimes it is good, rarely it is wonderful. Although at times the conversation is irritating, it is always interesting, and sometimes the discussions are profound. You'll want to leave a 20 percent gratuity after this one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

any last requests?

The wild blackberries are in season which means it's hot. The same could be said for blueberries, except they are cultivated. OK. Whatever. Get outdoors and get used to it; the heat is going to be with us a while but the berries won't last but a couple of weeks. For some reason, wild blackberries are always co-located with poison ivy and ticks so I've acquired all three over the last week but really only a taste for the berries. Someone who thinks nature has a mind of its own might think there's a plan afoot but my suspicions point to the forest edge and the suitability of all to that microclimate.

Blackberries ripening amid the poison ivy.

The best way to cook wild blackberries is not-at-all. By that I mean you just eat what you pick. Seldom do you find enough in any one area to pick more than a pint or two so it's hard to stock up on the wild ones. Don't try. Steal them like an afternoon delight. Although I did pick a pint yesterday and give them to a dying man as one of his last requests. I repeat this only to inform you of the lengths you'll have to go to get a pint from m.o.i.

Monday, June 22, 2009

warrior ant press guide to summer fun

Some simple, inexpensive tips from Warrior Ant Press for enjoying summer.

*Make a cake with a big S on it.

*Eat a peach. Husk sweet corn. Slice tomatoes.

*Strip naked and go swimming in a lake or river.

*Ditch work for a day game.

*Road trip! Music festival! Movies! Mojitos!

*Go an entire week without wearing shoes; if you absolutely must wear them, make certain they are sandals.

*Rent a dunk tank for the backyard b-b-que.

*Flirt with an out-of-towner on vacation.

*Take a nap underneath a shade tree (preferably with the out-of-towner!).

*Have a garage sale. Immediately blow all the proceeds on something you can't afford.

Say the words, "make mine a double" at least once.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

hot enough for ya?

It's supposed to be goof; it's summer.

It may be FD in America but everywhere else it's the summer solstice. Enjoy.

Photo: NASA via the Hinode's X-Ray Telescope.

Friday, June 19, 2009

where you go

The world's longest bicycle race-across the African continent- from Cairo to Capetown.

I don't know why there aren't more movies like this one. Perhaps there need to be more filmakers who cycle.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

the bicycle film festival

Bikes and films. Films and bikes. The bicycle film festival. Two versions. En Anglais. En Français.

A reason to live in NYC.

Some tricky Parisians.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

every little thing

In gardening, one can easily be reminded that sometimes it's hard to leave well enough alone. The little sprouts pulled last week, the ones resembling weeds?; this week you may discover they were the makings of the elegant and hard-to-cultivate cardinal flowers you planted last year.

Once when walking along a country road a friend and I spotted an architecturally distinct bird's nest cradled in the crook of a branch. It was winter so we knew the nest wasn't active.

"Let's take it!" we shouted in near unison as we moved to examine it more closely. It was truly a marvel of construction. We pondered the species that would have made it. Hummingbird? Much too big. Bluebird? Neat enough and about the right size, but would a bluebird nest this close to the road? Unlikely, besides, it seemed too deep to be a bluebird nest. Black-capped chickadee? White-breasted nuthatch? We didn't know. "That's so awesome to see it."

And then, in a rare moment of clarity, we realized we didn't need the nest. The act of seeing of it, the examination of it, the discussion of what it meant, of who constructed it, was moment enough. We didn't need to remove it, carry it back to the house and put it on the mantle.

Removing the nest wouldn't have been an environmental crime with major repercussions, especially since in reality it amounted to a small bundle of twigs organized intently and glued together by spittle.

Except one. Taking the nest would deprive anyone else walking along this lane of the opportunity of discovering it just as we had discovered it. So we left it. Secure in the branch and in our memories.

That act was brought back to me this week because a month or so when working in the garden, cutting down some dead ornamental grasses to make room for new growth, I found a pod glued to one of the stalks. The pod wasn't anything I recognized. It appeared to have two halves, each about the size of quarter. The exterior was hard and had a silky appearance, probably grass leaves, chewed into fine bits, and then reguritated and formed into this lenticular shaped pair of pods. Immediately I thought of a paper wasp or other stinging insect; but the pod was unusual enough that I didn't recogonize it. I cut around the stalk so that the pod remain attached and brought it inside to try and find out what kind of wasp would make such a pod. I put it on the table in the foyer and immediately forgot about it.
(click on image for higher resolution)

Until this week. I saw the pod and it looked like something had attacked it. Meal worms! immediately came to mind. There were holes in the side. I picked it up and examined it closely. The exterior was covered with small critters. It took me a moment to realize what they were. Damn! They were pr1ying mantises. Inside the house the heat and time of year has triggered them to hatch, the juveniles had crawled out looking for their first meal to sustain life and what did they find? Nothing. So they clung to the only thing they knew and they starved to death. Bummer. And dumb on my part. Now my garden would be deprived of fewer benign insects and perhaps more destructive ones. People pay good money for praying mantis eggs and had I remembered what they looked like, I would have known and left well and good enough alone.

Monday, June 15, 2009

fireworks on the mountain

We note with interest not that the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde won the last major tuneup, the Dauphiné Libéré, prior to cycling's grandest event, Le Tour, but instead that Valverde has been barred (based upon circumstantial evidence) from racing in Italy for 2 years. For the not-so-die hard Tour fans, the Tour always sequeways briefly into one of the surrounding countries for a stage or two or half. This year, Le Tour crosses into Spain, Switzerland, and briefly into Italy. Unless Valverde, who finished 2nd in last year's tour, can convince the Italian Cycling body to lift the sanction or can convince Amoury Sports, the sanctioning body of Le Tour, to let him run the 80 kilometers (albeit in the Alps) of this year's race he won't be riding. And there will be more talk of doping in cycling as one of the premier athletes is barred it's most prestigious event. Some might say that with Lance in the mix, there will always be talk...but talk is cheap and tests are expensive. Amoury Sports has announced that this year's Tour will the most tested in history; they'll have more drug tests than an Olympic weightlifting event.

As importantly though in the Dauphiné Libéré results is the 2nd place finish of Caudel Evans just ahead of the pre-Tour favorite, Alberto Contador of Astana. Evans had a good chance to win last year's tour and finished second. Denis Menchov, winner of this year's Giro will be grinding for another Grand Tour win. This alone pretty much guarantees that fireworks will be erupting on the mountain stages during this year's tour.

Regardless of what the American press would have you believe it is very unlikely that Lance Armstrong has the form to stay abreast of these riders when the deep attacks come. I expect him to shine for moments but 3 weeks is a long time to race and this year the Tour has packed some storied climbed into the package. Two days before the finish the riders will be forced to summit Mont Ventoux, considered by some to be the most difficult climb in France.

Photo: (top) Alejandro Valverde, 2008 Vuelta a España, 9th stage, Alto Gallego, Spain courtesy of Tesksman, Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, June 12, 2009

new puppy names

It can be confusing to name your new puppy. I suppose there are rules, or more aptly put, guidelines. Shouldn't rhyme with sit, or stay - which might rule out Twit or Gay. Shouldn't be easily confused with common household items or drinks. That rules out Rake, Shovel, and Broom as well as IPA, Latte, and Soda.

One should be able to call the dog in public and not be embarrassed. If you're older than 7 you might want to stay away from Fluffy, Cuddles, Winnie, or Bubbles.

If you fancy yourself a macho dude and show up at the dog park with a Chinese Crested Hairless (flags should be raising already!) yelling, "Here, POWDER PUFF, here!" well, you only have yourself to blame. Opt for a strong, yet sensitive name, perhaps with an air of mystery. "WAR", although strong sounding, is still brittle around the edges. Some might get your subtle reference to the funk bank, but others might just see you as a jarhead.

Do not call your dog ROCKY as they are more prone to biting (Julie Chao, 1997 San Francisco Examiner); probably because they can't box.

Or TINKLE BELL. Unless you like dogs who wee on the carpet.

Or TOAD. Do you really want a toady dog? A better name might be THOR.

SAL is a name rarely used and could fit either a stud or a bitch.

If your puppy is feisty, then you might be tempted to go with SPARKY or SPARKS. If you're an indie music fan then perhaps just FEIST.

My new dog's name? PAPER TIGER.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

r.i.p. mountain dog

Trex, the inimitable and indefatigable Rare West Tibetan Mountain Dog, has made his final summit. His demise, by a condition known as gastric dilatation volvulus, was sudden and unexpected. The happy-go-lucky canine confederate will be missed.

Born on M.L. King Day in 2003, Trex led a storied life that few can imagine. Brought to this country by Tibetan monks traveling abroad on a sand mandala tour, Trex escaped his kennel and sought asylum in the US. Then known as Banjo, he briefly lived an itinerant life, sleeping under the stars and hustling for treats and the affections of passersby until a band of late-nite lesbians found the furry plaything making snow angels in the middle of the street during a Midwest blizzard. Always the ladies man, when the girls invited him into their home, he blindly followed. Banjo soon found the vegan lifestyle perplexing and when opportunity arose, he readily agreed to being traded to an omnivore for a double espresso, a latte 'skinny', and a half pound of freshly roasted Ethopian Yirgacheffe beans. It was then that he changed his name to Trex - rhymes with Rex and short for T-Rex.

Never one to settle for 'house-pet' status, Trex interned for a mascot position with the Department of Interior. Although universally liked by the staff, he was summarily dismissed after 6 weeks by a cat-loving supervisor for being "too much like a dog". Like most everything, Trex took the news in quick stride and left without a whimper but not before leaving a robust shit in The Man's office.

Soon thereafter, Trex settled into his role as guardian of Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Headquarters, a fortuitous position perfectly suited to his demeanor since it had few, if any, responsibilities beyond hanging out and keeping a watchful eye on the nutty owner.

Although he never caught a rabbit, he was a friend of mine. Trex was always ready for anything; the first volunteer for any adventure. When friends and family said to me, "have you lost your freakin' mind?" Trex was there with the take-me, take-me, oh pretty please take-me tail wag. He never said no. Sleep under a bridge? No problem. Crash on a wing dike? OK. Sample a flash flood at midnight? Scramble up this scree deposit? Clean trash from the river. Alright. Impersonate the homeless or a seeing-eye dog? Why not, nothing else goin' on. Crash the Gala Gateway Arch 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's return with a band of merry pranksters? Cool. Hike in 100 degree heat and 90 percent humidity? Walk in a blizzard? Do a 340-mile canoe race across Missouri in the middle of August. Go looking for the long lost Ivory-billed Woodpecker in an Arkansas swamp? Dude! He was in.

All he asked for in return was clean water, two squares a day, and the occasional biscuit. Pet his soft head and you were a friend for life.

Trex's mellow and good-hearted nature diffused more than one situation involving law enforcement officials, rednecks, and belligerent drunks. Had he not been there, the outcome for m.o.i. would certainly have been less pleasant.

Trex was a proud puppy with panache. Seemingly without effort he spent the bulk of his life doing the things that most of wish we could do more of: relaxing, playing, ruminating on the larger world, and keeping a watchful eye over those we love, trust, and admire.

Trex was by no means a perfect animal though he certainly had far fewer faults than his principal caretaker. Despite the tone of this remembrance, Trex was, and will continue to be, for me an animal. And in that role, as a trusted and dear friend and companion, this dog, like other animals, frequently reminded of several things that humans oft forget. There is more to life than work. Work is fun, but play is important. And whenever the little, inconsequential things in life would send me into a mindless cussing rant, Trex would come, lie at my feet, and give me a gentle look as if to say, "dude, I don't know what your problem is but you'd be much better off just taking a chill pill. Now. About that walk you promised me an hour ago. Let's go!"

Images, top to bottom.
*Type breed of the Rare West Tibetan Mountain Dog, 2007
*Interning with the Department of Interior, 2003.
*Trex looking somewhat apprehensive, late on day three of the inaugural mr340, 2006.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

the town of bald eagle

Most of the bald eagles, as have the people, moved elsewhere but the little town of Lecompton soldiers on, hanging on to a small piece of American history. Here, in the original Capital of the Kansas Territory, the Lecompton Constitution was proposed and had it been ratified, Kansas would have been admitted as a slave state. Rigorous debates followed throughout the country but eventually free-staters rejected the idea and moved the capital to Topeka.

A few antebellum structures remain in the town, one of them the farmhouse pictured above. What's interesting about this house, besides the fact that the transition to large, round hay bales means the the house no longer serves as a home or a barn, are the carved sandstone columns, each carved from a single slab of stone, that hold up the porch.

Friday, June 5, 2009

one still works

Why talk to the press when you can tweet them? Lance Armstrong provides his own picture of his latest progeny. Imagine. Now we can be the paparazzi of ourselves.

Photo: Max Armstrong by Lance Armstrong via Yfrog

Thursday, June 4, 2009

one we get the right dosage down, everything will fall into place

OK. It came to me today. How to stop this crazy shit that nutty far-right wingers do in the name of Beezlebum or whomever jacked up God these folks must be praying to. And believe it or not, it comes back to universal health care. That's right. We force the Republicans to take their meds. And with universal health care they'll be able to afford them!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

not religious enough

That seems to be the problem. No one meets anyone else's expectations. For the conservative part of the Republican Party, you are not sufficiently pious enough if you are pro-choice. Even Sam Brownback, who's about as conservative as it gets, was recently taken to task for voting to approve Katherine Sebilius as the new Health and Human Services. It's not enough that Brownback is from the same state as Sebilius and as a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2010, he just might need the votes of a few moderates to get elected. No. According to the far right rodeo clowns, because Sebilius was pro-choice and Brownback voted for her, he must have sold out his principles. The 'yur either 'wid me or 'agin me approach to the world. I've never been a fan of Brownback, but I don't see how it is possible to be pro-life for fetuses and pro-death for everyone else out of the womb. Abortion? NO! Death penalty? OK! Torture? OK! Saturation bombing? You bet. Napalm? Sometimes. If you're a Republican.

On the other hand. The Democrats often show similar wishy-washy religious views. When Bush was in office, his brand of religion was labelled as scary by the left. (I'm not saying it wasn't) but Bill Clinton's brand of religion was upheld as being well "full of grace". Until that we found out he wasted and then he was just a hypocrite like the rest of us.

Same for Barack Obama. He's either a pious compassionate Christian or a devout Muslin depending upon your point of view. People love big hats. But what they love even more are Big Hats in Church. That is until they don't. Or until the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is unearthed God-damming America in front of - God forbid! BLACK PEOPLE IN BIG HATS WHO VOTE-and then everyone was down on the big hats AND the Sunday-go-to-meeting brand of churcy black folk that suggests that some forms of social injustice should not be tolerated in the present day America-Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. That must mean they're a Muslim or they like big hats.

All said though, you do not have permission to shoot people--no matter your religion! Hats you can wear.

Note: I wrote most of this post over a month ago and then set it aside for other interests. It seemed appropos to revisit it again, especially in light of Sunday's shooting of one man in church by another man who felt the first man wasn't churchy enough. Now before you go saying, "hey wait a minute, that fellow was crazy!, you should realize that both sides have been using this same rhetoric to describe the other.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

take my backyard. PLEASE!

My friend Evan, who lives in DC and is hipper than most of us, turned me on to this group, Sharing Backyards, that helps link urban dwellers with too much backyard to those that don't have enough. They encourage the use of organic gardening practices. Sounds like a way I might be able to stay on top of the section of my gardening that seems to be slowly turning into a seed bank--for weeds.

Right now the program is largely in Cananda but the program has begun to expand into the US including Washington, DC, Portland, OR, and Boise, ID.

Monday, June 1, 2009

both sides now

We're guessing that the shooting of Dr. George Tiller will do little to bring activists, many polarized by 30 plus years of intolerance, to the table in order to respectively dialogue on abortion issues - but you never know. The alleged shooter, a wacko, felon from Merriam, Kansas fits the profile of an anti-abortion zealot with end-of-the-world leanings. You know the type, believing that if they shoot someone then the world's salvation will arise; funny how infrequently they think to shoot themselves first. Oh, if only that were part of the indoctrination! How easy life would be.

Republican rodeo clowns, right after they say prayers for the families and shed a few fake tears, will likely use any reaction by the left to drive a wedge through the easily fractured Democrats. Obama should quickly address the nation about the need to have conversations designed to bring solutions to the table rather than loaded weapons.