Wednesday, January 30, 2008

RayRay is my Poony Poon

I just had a look at my stats, and at least half of my traffic seems to be coming from people looking for the highly creepifying photo of Rachael Ray that went with this post. I guess everybody has their fetishes, but man. I'm feeling some real vicarious embarrassment here.

I hear you laughing, Tes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shanghai Ink

I'm doing a lot of those hey-check-this-out posts again. But really, check this out. It's a little documentary about Zhuo Dan Ting, a tattoo artist living in Shanghai.



Check out her website too. She does amazing work. Also see the beautiful and disturbing photos of the first suspension performed in Shanghai.

Kinda chills you to the bone, doesn't it?

I breezed right by this in the Post yesterday, but Wonkette caught it:

For years, President Bush and his advisers expressed frustration that the White House received little credit for the nation's strong economic performance because of public discontent about the Iraq war. Today, the president is getting little credit for improved security in Iraq, as the public increasingly focuses on a struggling U.S. economy.

That is the problem Bush faces as he prepares to deliver his seventh and probably final State of the Union address tonight
.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Grey Nasty January Mix

  • My strategy for getting through this, the most depressing time of the year, is anesthetize myself with loud offensive music. If you were in traffic yesterday afternoon and saw a pasty bespectacled shaven-headed guy in a blue Honda Civic headbanging and shouting "SO NOW I'M ROLLIN' DOWN RODEO WITH A SHOTGUN/THESE PEOPLE AIN'T SEEN A BROWN-SKINNED MAN SINCE THEIR GRANDPARENTS BOUGHT ONE," that was me.

  • My new Dunlop Crybaby wah-wah pedal arrived on Friday. It's a thing of High Awesomeness. There are no knobs or switiches or anything like that: you just step on the pedal and rock it forward to go "Wah" and backward to go "Ow." It's low-tech like a violin. I'm having loads of fun learning to use it. Besides the usual 70s theme-from-Shaft sound, there are lots of expressive effects you can access with it. I'm especially liking what happens when I switch to my bridge pickup, turn my gain up really high, and drag my fingernail along the windings of my low E string right over the 12th fret while slowly rocking the the pedal through the overtone series. It's not really a big seething mass of ungodly noise; it only sounds like it.

  • The Giant at Van Ness now sells Barry's tea. (Thanks for the tip, Diana!) This makes me extremely happy, especially since Trader Joe's is apparently going to discontinue its Irish Breakfast tea, which is the best substitute for the real thing I've found.

  • In his column this past Sunday, Gene Weingarten proposes an intriguing metric for determining one's fame, to wit: a person is truly famous if and only if his or her name, when entered in quotes into the Google search engine, returns more hits than does the phrase "she moaned."

    Since my name is shared by a percussionist from Toronto (with whom I'd love to play a gig sometime), my situation is a little complicated, but even without differentiating between us we only get 1,600 hits, which is far below the 2,830,000 needed to break the "she moaned" barrier. Adding "DC" after my name returns 384 hits, which means my level of fame is slightly greater than the phrase "spiked butt plug," and less than "inflatable butt plug" by a couple of orders of magnitude. This would be humiliating if adding "Toronto" after my name didn't return a mere 191 hits. That at least I can feel good about.

    Extraordinarily, "Hello Kitty butt plug" returns only 9 hits. I'm amazed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday at Hinode

O: "What a cute baby."

T: "She looks like she's made of marzipan."

R: "Ok, that's like the weirdest thing I've ever heard anybody say about a baby. 'She looks like she's made of marzipan.'"

T: "She really does. Look, her father's bringing her back by."

All: "Awwww."

R (sotto voce): "Oh, my god, she totally does!"

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hard Gay Cooking for Children

In what's turning out to be a banner week for hilarity of the brain-scorchingly peculiar variety here at Vaca Estupenda, Jet sent me this. You may need to install the DivX web player. Just go ahead and do it. Trust me.


Does Japanese pop culture seem as weird to the Japanese as it does to Americans? I wonder.

Further adventures of Hard Gay may be found here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Indescribable

Yep. It's Jimmy Shand and 50 Cent. The fact that the universe I live in is also populated by a genius warped enough to produce this fills me with a warm glow of happiness.


Thanks, Tes.

Friday, January 11, 2008

GulfofTONKIN, he sneezed

Oh my GAWD, our military presence in the Strait of Hormuz is being threatened by a drunk guy who thinks he's Boris Karloff!


Seriously, you would think that that if a government with the wealth and resources that ours has wanted to create some fake evidence for a war, they would at least find an actor with an actual Persian accent. As a causus belli this is about as lame as it gets.

(Al Jazeera has the unedited video that the Pentagon released.)

Update. Via Tina, who really should get a blog of her own going, check out this piece by Ray McGovern: Gulf Shenanigans: No Laughing Matter.
...I must say that, as much as one might be tempted to laugh at the bizarre antics of Sunday’s incident involving small Iranian boats and US naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz, this is-as my old Russian professor used to say-nothing to laugh.

The situation is so reminiscent of what happened-and didn’t happen-from Aug 2-4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin and in Washington, it is in no way funny. At the time, the US had about 16,000 troops in South Vietnam. The war that was “justified” by the Tonkin Gulf resolution of Aug. 7, 1964 led to a buildup to 535,000 US troops in the late Sixties, 58,000 of whom were killed-not to mention the estimated two million Vietnamese who lost their lives by then and in the ensuing ten years.

Ten years. How can our president speak so glibly about ten more years of a U.S. armed presence in Iraq? Wonder why he doesn’t know anything about Vietnam.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bourdain, QOTSA, Xmax

Reading this excellent interview with Bourdain just reminded me: did anyone happen to catch the holiday special he did with Queens of the Stone Age? More importantly, did anyone happen to record it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Some Election Reading

  • Glen Ford on Barack Obama.
    Barack Obama's corporate-made and -financed presidential campaign is the product of three distinct factors, all mitigating against Black self-determination and political cohesion: 1) corporate decisions, made a decade ago, to provide media and financial support to pliant Black Democrats that can be trusted to carry Wall Street's water; 2) a widespread desire among whites to prove through the safe and simple act of voting that they are not personally racist, and/or to dismiss Black claims of pervasive racism in society, once and for all; 3) a huge reservoir of Jim Crow era, atavistic Black thinking that refuses to evaluate Black candidates' actual political stances, but instead revels in the prospect of Black faces in high places. A President Obama would, of course, be the zenith of such narrow, non-substantive, objectively self-defeating visions.
  • Michael Moore on the Dems in general.
    ... Nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve. She never met a request from the White House for war authorization that she didn't like. Unlike the Kerrys and the Bidens who initially voted for authorization but later came to realize the folly of their decision, Mrs. Clinton continued to cast numerous votes for the war until last March -- four long years of pro-war votes, even after 70% of the American public had turned against the war. She has steadfastly refused to say that she was wrong about any of this, and she will not apologize for her culpability in America's worst-ever foreign policy disaster. All she can bring herself to say is that she was "misled" by "faulty intelligence."

    Let's assume that's true. Do you want a President who is so easily misled? I wasn't "misled," and millions of others who took to the streets in February of 2003 weren't "misled" either. It was simply amazing that we knew the war was wrong when none of us had been briefed by the CIA, none of us were national security experts, and none of us had gone on a weapons inspection tour of Iraq. And yet... we knew we were being lied to! Let me ask those of you reading this letter: Were YOU "misled" -- or did you figure it out sometime between October of 2002 and March of 2007 that George W. Bush was up to something rotten? Twenty-three other senators were smart enough to figure it out and vote against the war from the get-go. Why wasn't Senator Clinton?
  • David Morris on what life was like under the Clintons, not all of which I'm sure I agree with.

  • Robert Sheer plays the class card.
    To his everlasting shame as President, Clinton supported and signed welfare legislation that shredded the federal safety net for the poor from which he personally had benefited. He faithfully served big corporate interests by signing off on Gramm-Leach-Bliley, the Financial Services Modernization Act, which, as a gift to the banks, insurance companies and stockbrokers, reversed consumer protection legislation from the New Deal era ... Yes, Bill Clinton was a very good President compared to what came immediately before and after, and his wife has many strong points in her favor, not the least of which is her wonkish intelligence. What I object to is the notion that the perspective of gender or race trumps that of economic class in considering the traumas of this nation. That is because the George W. Bush Administration engaged in class warfare for the rich with a vengeance that has left many Americans hurting, and we desperately need change to reverse that destructive course.
  • Grist.org's How Green is Your Candidate? plus a handy reference chart.

  • Glowing Pig Passes Genes to Piglets. Oh, sorry, my attention wandered for a minute there.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Brilliant

From this day forward, whenever I'm in Guitar Center, suffering the pangs of Gear Acquisition Syndrome as I feel myself surrounded by Les Pauls and Telecasters and lovely shiny Vox and Fender amplifiers, I'll do my best to keep in mind what Seasick Steve can do with just three strings. It's a dead cert the 58 Notes Per Second Man can't do this stuff. Not without spitting his gum out first.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Land of the free

Great article from Tom Engelhardt on Bush's legacy:

This is what "homeland security" means in the United States today. It means putting your country in full lockdown mode. It means the snarl at the border, the nasty comment in the waiting room, the dirty cell, the handcuffs, even the chains. It means being humiliated. It means a thorough lack of modulation or moderation. Arriving here now always threatens to be a "tempest-tost" experience whether you are a citizen, a semi-official visitor, or a foreign tourist. (After all, even Sen. Ted Kennedy found himself repeatedly on a no-fly list without adequate explanation.) Think of these three cases as snapshots from the borders of a country in which the presumption of innocence is slowly being drained of all meaning.
Go read the whole thing. It's hard to imagine what a president who actually wanted to destroy America would do that Bush hasn't.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolutions

  • 2007 was a guitar year. 2008 will be another one. I resolve to continue refining my technique and deepening my understanding of my instrument.

  • As a corollary, I resolve to scale down my use of DADGAD tuning in Irish music and spend more time with drop-D. DADGAD's become too much of a crutch for me.

  • I resolve to finish and release my long-delayed cd of electronic music.

  • As part of my as-yet-top-secret foray into songwriting, I resolve to write a minimum of one song a month.

  • I resolve that by this time next year, I will have started gigging in contexts outside of Irish music. It would be wonderful to have put an actual band together by then, but I'm not going to commit to that.

  • I resolve to finish building that mandolin. That's hardly worth resolving, but I need at least one easy thing on this list.

  • I resolve to begin learning/remembering Spanish. Living where I do, I feel ridiculous being an English-language monoglot, especially considering the years of Spanish I took in high school. That's got to change.

  • I resolve to commit more time to cardio exercise while continuing my current program of strength training.

  • I resolve to reduce the amount of time I spend on things that are irrelevant to my Real Life's Work.

  • Which means I resolve to get serious about changing dayjobs.

  • I resolve to be a snarky confrontational leftist asshole and not to worry about hurting the feelings of those stupid enough to still support the party of George W. Bush. I resolve to make a habit of raining scorn upon Republicans while poking them in the chest. "How 'bout it, sunshine? Is our children learning? IS THEY?"

  • I resolve not to take responsibility for other people's feelings or reactions anymore.

  • I resolve to promote peace, justice, and compassion in everything I do.

Don't you just love reading blog posts like this?