Creation Stories




Creation Stories is a book I enjoyed reading, but it did leave me wanting more.

I should state, up front, this review of the book is not a normal one. The book came out two years ago, and I just got around to it recently. I do recommend this for fans of the British music genre known as "Britpop" because you'll get a fair amount of background information from the book. You'll want to view it as a historical look at British independent music from the early Eighties until the end of the Nineties. It is not comprehensive, but there are a fair amount of good anecdotes to give you a superficial understanding of where Creation Records and Alan McGee fit into everything.

McGee downplays himself throughout the book. He could rightly call himself a genius at several things, but specifically he was enormously gifted when it came to spotting talent. This is a combination of knowing how to size up people, evaluate their skills, hear what they could do on stage, and make a business judgment about them relative to the music industry. Many people have done this and done quite well; McGee found the biggest band since U2 and a dozen other bands that were both commercially and artistically successful. He found Oasis, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, and a slew of other bands. He made millions for himself and for the artists that he worked with. He had his finger on the pulse and built a successful company.

Now, the fact that he did all of that while out of his mind on drugs is neither here nor there. The book details his prowess finding artists and it reveals the failures he had both professionally and personally. This is an honest book, through and through.

McGee could have been more specific and he could have researched dates and times and really looked at how Creation Records moved and shaped the culture. He could have done one book separately on Oasis and one on the company; it all blends together after a while. He is probably on the hook for another telling of these stories, and that's all right--there's so much more happening that you miss out on. I would have liked more focus on the business side of things, just to get more of a feel for how he ran things. What I came away with was an understanding that this wasn't a madcap laugh or a lucky break. Building Creation Records wasn't just what he did while on drug holiday or while sleeping on trains. He bridged the music scenes from Manchester, Glasgow, and London and made local acts global stars. He put music in the hands of people who never would have discovered it. He spent millions on records that otherwise would have never been heard. 

I do think it was a good read. I do wish there were specific year by year breakdowns and summaries of how big the company got, how big was the roster, why bands would come and go, and how it all compared to other labels in the same business. He breezes through some of these details and you don't really get the whole story of what happened when Oasis dwarfed the rest of their roster of bands and why some acts broke out and why some faded away. I don't know if he's trying to be even-handed or spare feelings, but he's relentlessly hard on himself and honest about his failings. In and of itself, McGee's harrowing descriptions of life at home and his health scares makes this a worthy read.

If McGee gets around to writing about more of the things I've outlined above, then all the better.

Tyrus Wong 1910-2016




Tyrus Wong was a Disney Legend, one of the influential artists who inspired much of the look and feel of the film Bambi. He was also an immigrant who came to these shores and was treated to racism and discrimination. In spite of all of that, he became a highly respected artist and illustrator.

Simon and Schuster is Making Hate Safe For the Mainstream




I think a boycott of CBS as a whole would be more appropriate, but what do I know?

Yiannopoulos’s payday was met with calls for a boycott of Simon and Schuster’s entire catalogue, which spans 35 imprints, including a call by a literary journal to not review any of the company’s books in 2017.

A representative for the company did not confirm the reported financial advance amount and said they do not comment on those figures. The literary agent working with Yiannopoulos has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast either.

In response to the announcement, The Chicago Review of Books vowed not to review a single Simon & Schuster book in 2017 due to the new book deal. The company typically publishes about 2,000 books per year.

“In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017,” the journal announced on its Twitter account.

Some Simon & Schuster authors struggled with the boycott of their own publisher, noting that they don’t agree with Yiannopoulos’ views, but still need to sell books.

“(That face when your) publisher signs a hate troll & people call for a boycott & you’re like well yeah but um,” Simon & Schuster author Michael Robbins wrote on Twitter. “(It’s the) same imprint (that) published Trump’s ‘Crippled America.”

If you're going to take a racist hate monger, and give him a publishing deal, then you have to accept the fact that people are not going to stand for it. If that hurts Les Moonves and the CBS media empire, so be it. Making hate a mainstream product you can buy in stores is not a marketing plan I would want to be a part of. I have no idea what the management at that particular imprint of Simon and Schuster was thinking when they gave this Milo character a quarter of a million dollars. Perhaps they weren't thinking at all.

Everyone and everything surrounding the "Alt Right" is so toxic right now that for a major American media company to lavish money on someone with those ties is absolutely reprehensible. Clearly, this is never going to be acceptable.

There already is a vast "wingnut welfare" infrastructure that publishes this material and puts it into the marketplace. Anti-liberal books were all the rage for years until they stopped selling in adequate numbers. No one is censoring these ideas, but they should be subjected to the marketplace. Whatever a boycott of Simon and Schuster accomplishes is fine by me. You cannot and should not mainstream hate in America and not pay a significant price for it at the cash register.

Carrie Fisher 1956-2016




The Carrie Fisher that I will remember is the one who wrote great, great books and had a small but vital part in The Blues Brothers. That whole Star Wars thing has gotten blown out of proportion. Her work in the theater pretty much ensures that we won't remember her for all of the things she could do, and could do well.

Sing is a Better Movie Than Some Would Have You Believe




Really, what are the standards for an animated film to be considered "good?"

Despite some bad reviews here and here, I actually saw Sing and I thought it was a good movie. I liked it about as much as I liked Zootopia, so if you didn't like that, well, I don't know what to say. This film does not avoid sadness and it does not insult the intelligence of children. Yes, it is fun and upbeat and has some slapstick to it, but it does not avoid telling you that show business sucks most of the time. If I had to point to one thing that allows the film to succeed it is that it arrives without assuming you haven't already seen what goes on behind the scenes at talent shows. It assumes you know that there's going to be conflict and drama.

Sing owes a lot to the animation esthetic at Illumination (the Minion movie, whatever else) and you can easily be dazzled by what you see. It's a rich, diverse tapestry and, a few stereotypes aside, it works very well on the screen. So, relax. You're not going to be ripped off.

Now, having said that, the plot is a mile wide and an inch deep. You know that down on his luck Buster Moon is going to take a fall and climb right back up. You know how the movie will end when the whole thing kicks off, but it's the journey that works. You will not mind the episodic format and you will want to see more of certain characters. There's so much happening in this film that the plot will not bother you at all because you're already seeing all the different ways these characters are looking for some sort of validation.

Somehow, they made Matthew McConaughey lose every bit of Texas from his voice. Somehow, they managed to make Scarlett Johansson not sound exactly like herself but like a teenaged girl instead. Reese Witherspoon and Seth McFarlane are part of a broadly drawn cast of weirdos and misfits and it all somehow works. McFarlane in particular fits into the whole thing like a completely square peg being dropped through the other side of a round hole. He's not even really part of the team, he just kind of floats through this thing like comic relief. And, as always, you're going to wonder why Jennifer Hudson doesn't already have her own damned franchise already.

There's an especially weird diversion towards the end of the second act that involves washing cars and acting loopy and it's absolutely worth the price of admission. The rest I'm not giving away.

 

Incompetence




Did you want to read a positive, uplifting story about an old Internet company? Keep moving:

Yahoo can’t help being Yahoo, the technology industry’s most hapless company. And now the market is betting the company's incompetence might cost shareholders $1 billion or more.
Yahoo Inc.’s latest embarrassing stumble was a disclosure on Wednesday that cyberthieves in 2013 siphoned informationfrom more than 1 billion Yahoo accounts, including users' email addresses, scrambled account passwords and dates of birth. Criminals could use the information to go after more sensitive personal data elsewhere online. Yahoo previously disclosed a likely separate cyberattack that involved at least 500 million accounts.

Don't worry--only a handful of Yahoo! executives are going to walk away with millions. It's not like everyone is going to share the pain equally and it's not as if the people running things are going to do something foolish and dramatic like give back all the bonuses they were promised.

Poor performance does not lead to shame and doing the right thing. It leads to more money and promotions! Yay!

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-12-15/yahoo-s-cyberfail-could-cut-1-billion-from-verizon-deal

 

Oscar Wilde




Oscar Wilde returns to England:

A portrait of the writer Oscar Wilde, which had to be sold off after he was accused of gross indecency, is to return from America for the first time in nearly a century. It will be displayed at Tate Britain, in an exhibition called Queer British Art 1861-1967, which opens in April.

Robert Harper Pennington, an American artist who painted the full-length portrait (1881), gave it to Wilde and his wife Constance as a wedding present in 1884. It was the couple’s most prized possession, hung above the fireplace in their London home. But in 1895 Wilde was arrested and later sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for his homosexual relationship with Alfred Douglas. 

Wilde’s legal expenses led to him being declared bankrupt, and the Pennington portrait had to be sold. Later, in the 1920s, it was bought by a US collector and the portrait was subsequently acquired by the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Are we any more enlightened now than we were in Wilde's time? You can be broken by the law and rendered destitute for less than loving someone nowadays. I think what has changed is that it can happen before Piers Morgan has a chance to open up his puke funnel and comment.

Bootleg Donald Duck




Very well done, and found on the streets of Stuttgart, Germany many years ago.

The Throng Below the Eiffel Tower




This is still one of my favorite photos.

In my opinion, the Eiffel Tower is plenty high enough. This was taken looking down from the first platform. At this time of the year, which was roughly November of 2011, there was a skating rink and some food vendors on that level. We then went up to the second platform. You would think, oh, that's not very high and of course, you have to go to the top.

Nope.

If you go up to the second platform, that's plenty high enough. You do not need to go to the top. I did not go to the top. Oh, hell no.

Abstract Number 109




This is the first set of abstract paintings that I have done in months and I wanted to kick things off with number 109. I'm going to reorganize the abstract painting series into a numerical sequence and really see what I can do to enhance the ones that are out there. It makes sense to offer these for download and for purchase on Society6 and Fine Art America, but don't worry--they're still here and they'll all be available.

Abstract Painting




This is an older painting, and I've renamed and renumbered it. What stands out to me is that this is one of the few that I've done on watercolor paper that really turned out nice in that you can see the three dimensional aspects of the painting.

Birds on Frozen Water




This was shot from the driver's seat of my car one morning when I was stuck in traffic. The impossibly busy pond and the blue effect of the shore in the distance made this work when it really shouldn't have worked at all. I left much of the foreground in the photo because that also seemed to make sense. This particular pond is in Central Maryland, somewhere near Route 1, between Highways 100 and 175 or so.

Cloudy Day




This was discovered in the archives, cleaned up slightly for publication, and re-purposed for modern blogging.

Shot taken on June 22, 2009.

Fiberglass Cow




Turkey Hill Experience, Columbia, Pennsylvania, circa summer, 2015.

Annapolis




"Annapolis" was taken June 30, 2009. This particular shot happened entirely by accident in the marina and was not staged. The two people in the background were not aware of this shot even though they are perfectly positioned to make the photo work. This was just a lucky shot with my old Canon digital camera and has gone completely undiscovered for over seven years.

This photo is "busy" in the sense that the composition seems to be confused. The angles and lines of the boat in the foreground and the positioning of the people in the background makes it look cinematic for a moment, but it really isn't. I think the blue hull of the boat in the upper right hand corner really makes it all come together.

I had gone to Annapolis to see The Church play at Ram's Head Tavern and it was a tough tour for the band. They were supporting Untitled #23 and were going around in two small vans. The show opener, Adam Franklin, was powerful and it was a momentous thing to see him and his band play.

But The Church, still with Marty Willson-Piper at that time, levitated the building. Decades of experience has given them a confident live presence that defies explanation. They filled that room and they played an enormously important set, curated down to the moment and designed to allow them to walk off leaving no one untouched. To hear selections from The Blurred Crusade era was a marvelous experience. The show was heavy on selections from the beginning and end of their catalog.

This photo reminded me of that night, and I didn't even know it existed until a little while ago.

Abstract Bird

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1800.0"] Abstract Bird 0001 Abstract Bird 0001 [/caption]


This is the original, almost completely untouched version of the abstract bird painting that I did earlier this month. It has sat on the desktop, neglected and waiting for the right moment to appear. Why not on the first day of August?

Here are two more versions of the same painting.



[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1800.0"] Abstract Bird 0002 Abstract Bird 0002 [/caption]




Don't Forget About the People in Louisiana




And don't forget their pets, either:

Between 20 and 30 parishes in southern Louisiana remain in a state of emergency on Wednesday, five days after severe flooding ravaged large portions of the region.

Six of the hardest hit areas last week recorded more than two feet of rainfall. Expertsestimate that from Aug. 12 to Aug. 14, the equivalent of 4 trillion gallons of water — enough to fill more than 6 million Olympic-size pools — fell on southern Louisiana.

Officials estimate the flooding damaged 40,000 homes and displaced more than 30,000 people. As of this writing, 11 people have died, though that number isexpected to rise as rescue efforts continue.

Several roadways were also affected by overflowing waterways. According to a New York Times report, “Parts of major roadways became islands, including a stretch of interstate where hundreds of drivers had been stranded for over 24 hours.”

As of Monday, the Weather Channel reported that 125 vehicles were “still stranded on Interstate 12 between Tangipahoa Parish and Baton Rouge, according to Maj. Doug Cain from the Louisiana State Police.”

President Obama on Sunday declared that “a major disaster exists” in four of the hardest hit parishes — East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa — allocating federal funds to “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”

It is way too easy to ignore rural American in this country. Part of the problem is the infrastructure of modern news gathering. There used to be news bureaus all over America and now there are just people with their phones. This keeps people from really knowing what's going on because reporters are supposed to provide context and scale to their stories. That's not really happening right now.

One helpful thing, though--the presence of the Louisiana National Guard certainly helps. It's a good thing they're not sitting in Iraq right now.

Leave People Alone




Erin Bailey is a fellow blogger on Squarespace, and she has written a powerful essay on what she faces on a day to day basis. As a woman and a fitness blogger, she runs up against some of the nastiest misogyny you can imagine. 

Honestly, just leave people alone. You can smile, you can wave, and you can appreciate how much better this world would be if people would stop acting like assholes. What you can't do is sexually harass someone just because they are exercising in public.

I blame hookup culture. There are some men who know that it is a numbers game. The more women they accost, the better their chances for being accosted right back. Never mind that 1,000 women have to endure endless amounts of sexist bullshit--it's all about getting lucky. There is something to be said for granting other people the space to live their lives in dignity.

Comedy Central Fired the Wrong Guy




Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show was never supposed to be as huge as The Colbert Report. To expect that would be unfair since much of the staff went with Stephen Colbert to the Late Show. Wilmore was an important voice for people who we don't hear from enough in the culture. He did everything the right way and there is nothing to criticize him for. No matter how underwhelming his numbers, he did not deserve to be fired before Trevor Noah:

Comedy Central announced Monday it is canceling Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show, and the last episode will air on Thursday. Comedy Central President Kent Alterman said the show has not been resonating with the network’s audience. “Even though we’ve given it a year and a half, we’ve been hoping against hope that it would start to click with our audience, but it hasn’t happened and we haven’t seen evidence of it happening,” Alterman said. Wilmore recently headlined the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where he was roundly criticized for using the n-word. Rory Albanese, a comedian who works on the show, tweeted Monday morning: “I’m very proud to have been a part of a show that has been funny, diverse & extremely necessary.”

Noah is the one who doesn't "resonate" with viewers. Why is he being given a pass?

When was the last time anything on the Daily Show was worth blogging about? For me, there has been a glaring omission from the political discussion ever since Jon Stewart stepped down. At least Wilmore understood American politics.

The Tonight Show is Unwatchable




I promise you one glittering, unfettered hot take and only one. The Tonight Show under Jimmy Fallon is infantile and unwatchable.

I realize that this is not a popular opinion, nor will it win me any special acclaim. I also realize that it is based on a very subjective understanding of the medium of television. The Tonight Show was pretty unwatchable under Jay Leno because he played it as the alternative to all of that "mean comedy" that was out there; it was temporarily smart and funny under Conan O'Brien. It went back to being "YouTube" friendly for about a minute under Jay when he took the show away from Conan. Since having it taken away and given to Jimmy Fallon, the show is a childish, ridiculous piece of flaming shit. The show does better in the ratings than Stephen Colbert because nobody wants to watch smart TV anymore.

That's my hot take. And I can remember when Johnny Carson was never there during his last three years because he didn't give a shit. So don't think this is a post like that. The good old days for the Tonight Show ran briefly from the late 1960s until about 1985 or so, and then it went into receivership until Carson was tired of making all that money.

There is Nothing Masculine About Hating People




Let's not overthink things here:

Political analysts have repeatedly made the case that Trump is a mirror; that he does not create but only stokes Americans’ deep-seated fears, xenophobia, and racism that surface by way of economic instability. The bitterness and primal scorn that Trump has tapped among white Americans in struggling areas is aimed not just at those of foreign extraction, as Alec MacGillis writes in our magazinethis month, but also the even more impoverished people whom homegrown “working-class” whites see as scavengers ripping a cut of many already meager paychecks.

Economically, Americans are much better off than they were eight years ago. But it was a black man who accomplished this, so Donald Trump is the natural rally point for white supremacy in America. You cannot make the case that Trump is a smart choice in any regard. He is explicitly the candidate who sticks it to minorities. He is home base for the kind of Americanism that has been hidden for decades. He gets away with saying and doing things that would have sunken a candidate in the 1980s and 1990s because he is a master manipulator of social media.

There is nothing "masculine" about hating people.

Trump Orders Mother With Screaming Baby to Leave




It's impossible to keep up with this asshole:

Donald Trump asked a woman with a crying baby to leave his rally in Ashburn, Virginia on Tuesday.

“Don’t worry about that baby. I love babies," Trump said after hearing the baby crying during an aside about the trade imbalance. "Don’t worry about it. I love babies. I hear that baby crying, I like it. What a baby. What a beautiful baby. Don’t worry, don’t worry. The mom’s running around like—don’t worry about it, you know. It’s young and beautiful and healthy and that’s what we want.”

Trump then returned to his non-baby-related remarks, only to hear the baby make more noise.

“They have ripped us to shreds, ripped us absolutely to shreds," Trump said of China, before turning back to the woman with the child.

“Actually, I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here," the Republican nominee said to laughter and applause. "That’s all right. Don’t worry. I, I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s OK. People don’t understand. That’s OK."

No word on whether or not Trump's thugs roughed up the mother or took any candy from the baby.

Nobody Has a Monopoly on Truth and Morals




Paul Manafort runs the Donald Trump campaign. He is the most ethically challenged member of Trump's team, and that's saying a whole hell of a lot:

It is far from certain that Mr. Manafort’s views have directly shaped Mr. Trump’s, since Mr. Trump spoke favorably of Mr. Putin’s leadership before Mr. Manafort joined the campaign. But it is clear that the two have a shared view of Russia and neighbors like Ukraine — an affection, even — that, in Mr. Manafort’s case, has been shaped by years of business dealings as much as by any policy or ideology.

“I wouldn’t put out any moral arguments about his work,” said Yevgeny E. Kopachko, a pollster with Mr. Yanukovych’s former party who cooperated with Mr. Manafort for years and called him a pragmatic and effective strategist. “Nobody has a monopoly on truth and morals.”

Mr. Manafort did not respond to requests for an interview. In television interviews on Sunday, though, he defended Mr. Trump’s views on Russia, saying that as president, Mr. Trump would be firm with Russia but would deal with it like any other country when doing so suited American interests.

“He views Russia as a foreign power that has its own interests at stake,” Mr. Manafort said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Until he joined Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign this year, Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine had been his most significant political campaign in recent years. He began his career in Republican politics in the 1970s and extended it overseas to advising authoritarian leaders, including Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Mr. Yanukovych.

Manafort has been in bed with the Russian-aligned Ukrainians for years. He owes much of his livelihood to taking money from a foreign government. Would any government agency give him access to classified information? My guess is that they would not dream of granting him a clearance. And yet, he's running the campaign for the Republican nominee for president.

Paul Ryan Should Call Donald Trump Before Congress




Given everything we know about Paul Ryan, I think it is safe to say that there will be no House Armed Services or Intelligence Committee hearings into what Donald Trump wants Russia to do on behalf of the Republican Party:

In an interview that aired Thursday morning on "Fox and Friends," Donald Trump said he was not being serious when he called on Russia to find and release emails deleted by Hillary Clinton.

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade told Trump that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said that Trump's comments hoping Russia would hack into Clinton's server were a national security issue.

"You have to be kidding," Trump responded. "His client, his person deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I'm being sarcastic with something..."

Kilmeade jumped in to ask, "Are you being sarcastic?"

"Of course I'm being sarcastic," Trump replied. "But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take look at what was said on those emails, it's disgraceful."

Everything that Donald Trump said in public would trigger House hearings, investigations, special committees, and joint sessions of Congress if a Democrat had said them out loud to the working press. So far, I don't see any stories in the press where Ryan has asked the people who work for him to investigate open entreaties for espionage against the Democratic Party. This is because he really has no idea what kind of a man he endorsed and how big the tiger is after he grabbed onto the tail. 

Only Democrats get investigated under Paul Ryan's watch. Who doesn't already know that?

Wonder Woman




Something tells me that DC made a massive mistake by not making the stand-alone Wonder Woman movie before that horrible mess of a Batman against Superman movie:

She’s finally here. After years of false starts, a live-action Wonder Woman movie is coming next summer. Warner Bros. just revealed the first trailer at San Diego Comic-Con to the uproarious excitement of the Hall H crowd, and it. is. perfect.

I would add that movie trailers are really nothing to get excited about, but still. Patty Jenkins has created something that is probably going to blow the genre away. This film has a visual style that will make people wonder why Zack Snyder still gets work. It takes enormous courage for a film to use World War I as a setting, especially since we're more conditioned to other periods in history.

Satellite TV is Dying Faster Than Expected




I was a one-and-done customer of satellite television. We had to switch to satellite in order to get out from under the horrible service being delivered by Comcast and, as soon as we could, we cancelled our service because, as many Americans now know, satellite television sucks:

"Satellite TV technology is losing its currency faster than anyone would have predicted," says one analyst, while another Wall Street observer says: "This seems to be Charlie (Ergen)'s strategy."

Charlie Ergen's Dish Network on Thursday surprised Wall Street with its biggest quarterly pay TV subscriber decline ever, posting a drop of 281,000 for the April-June period, marking 200,000 more losses than in the year-ago period.

The company's previous high for a quarterly sub loss had been 156,000 in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Leichtman Research Group founder Bruce Leichtman. Wall Street had on average expected a subscriber decline of around 91,000. In addition, Dish posted its first quarter of broadband subscriber losses. The company's stock was down 3 percent in early Thursday trading, but my mid-day was up more than 1 percent, showing investors weren't too concerned.

Did they come up with a way to make it a two-way form of communication? No, of course not. They followed the Blockbuster Video business model--lock people into contracts, shit on them whenever possible, charge them as much as the market will bear, and act surprised when someone offers a better, cheaper alternative that isn't as nasty.

Oh, and broadband for rural customers is the way to go. If you can deliver high-speed Internet to everyone, you can kill off Satellite TV and everyone else.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 at San Diego Comic-Con




Well, I won't be in San Diego this weekend, but I will be Earth-bound and dreaming of what's to come from the reboot of MST3K.

This Saturday! Join @JoelGHodgson & the new cast of @MST3K in San Diego for panels, signings & more @Comic_Con! http://mst3k.com/sdcc2016

The wait is driving me a little crazy, but I'm super psyched to have the show back.

Lou Holtz and a Bottle of Crown Royal




Someone gave retired football coach Lou Holtz a bottle of Crown Royal. Or he brought it with him. Who knows?

This is really a thing that happened. In the midst of one of the greatest shit shows in all of recorded history, someone had a spare bottle to give away, and they gave it to Holtz because why not? Holtz endorsed Trump back in May because he once played golf at a resort that Trump has bankrupted yet.

Lou Holtz walking around the GOP convention with a bottle of Crown Royal is now breaking the Internet. Yay!

Wyatt at the Coyote Palace




Kristin Hersh continues to move the world in her direction. Not content with a mere album, she's releasing a book to coincide with the music she's written and she's going to tour the British Isles in November:

Kristin Hersh returns again to Ireland and the UK for a rare solo tour in support of her highly anticipated new double CD and book, “Wyatt At The Coyote Palace” (Omnibus Press) due out October 4th, a 24 track collection of brand new songs. Pre-orders for “Wyatt” will be available very soon on this site. “Wyatt” is the third release in the groundbreaking book/CD format that Kristin began with her most recent solo album “Crooked” and the Throwing Muses 2013 release “Purgatory/Paradise”. “An Evening with Kristin Hersh” includes readings and songs from her works spanning her entire career.

1 November 2016 – Dundalk, Ireland – Spirit Store – tickets
2 November 2016 – Dublin, Ireland – Pavillion Theatre – tickets
3 November 2016 – Cork, Ireland – Triskel Christchurch – tickets
4 November 2016 – Galway, Ireland – Roisin Dubh – tickets
5 November 2016 – Limerick, Ireland – Dolans Warehouse
7 November 2016 – Portsmouth, UK – Wedgewood Room – tickets
8 November 2016 – Bristol, UK – Lantern Theatre – tickets
9 November 2016 – Exeter, UK – Phoenix – tickets
10 November 2016 – Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach – tickets
11 November 2016 – Aldershot, UK – West End Centre
13 November 2016 – Manchester, UK – Gorilla – tickets
16 November 2016 – York, UK – Crescent – tickets
17 November 2016 – Edinburgh, UK – Summerhall
18 November 2016 – Glasgow, UK – Mono – tickets
19 November 2016 – Liverpool, UK – Philharmonic Music Room – tickets
20 November 2016 – Hebden Bridge, UK – Trades Club
21 November 2016 – Norwich, UK – Norwich Arts Center
22 November 2016 – Brighton, UK – Komedia – tickets
24 November 2016 – London, UK – St John in Bethnal Green – tickets
25 November 2016 – Folkestone – Literary Festival – info






Who else has the range and the ability to do something like this? 

Stephen Colbert Humiliates the Republican Party




I would like to see more of this, please:

The Republican National Convention has barely begun, but Stephen Colbert is already getting kicked offstage.

The impish late-night host — mimicking blue-coiffed “Hunger Games” MC Caesar Flickerman — crashed the Cleveland convention stage Sunday to mock soon-to-be GOP nominee Donald Trump ahead of his coronation.

“He has formed an alliance with Indiana Governor Mike Pence,” Colbert said in his lilting impression, bowing his head in apparent boredom. “Sorry, I blacked out there for a moment. So it is my honor to hereby launch and begin the 2016 Republican National Hungry for Power Games!”

Colbert might end up being the only actual famous person with influence to appear at the GOP convention, and that says more about the D-list celebrities that have agreed to appear than it does about anything else.

Disney's Cinderella Castle in Legos




This is pretty neat:

After news leaked yesterday, Lego Group today confirmed a huge 4,000 piece Lego replica of its iconic Disney Resort Cinderella Castle: set 71040 Disney Castle.

Having been impressed by the Lego Nexo KnightsLego Ninjago and Lego Minecraft at New York Toy Fair I had thought I was all up to date with what Lego had in store for us this year. Then today they reveal this huge replica set of the Walt Disney DIS +0.34% World Resort Cinderella Castle. Standing at over 29” high and 17” wide this is a monster build, but the size means it can do much more than reproduce the original’s architecture and silhouette. 

I prefer the original, photographed in 2011 at Legoland Ulm:






The image above does not do the display justice. It is the Neuschwanstein Castle rendered in Legos, and it looks amazing in person. This was the standard Lego village display (everything glued down, don't touch, etc.). 

Now, if they were to release a version of THAT thing, it would likely top 10,000 pieces and cost quite a bit of money.

By the Way, Republicans Are Still Assholes




There are Republican Members of Congress who don't want President Obama to create any more national monuments. Apparently, they're not assholes--they just care more about the land than anyone else:

Cliven Bundy may be in jail, but he still has friends in Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives next week is expected to vote on a proposal that would exempt 48 counties, primarily in the West, from the law that has been used for more than 100 years to protect archaeologically, culturally, and naturally significant resources in the United States, including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

The counties that would be exempted from the Antiquities Act of 1906 cover more than 250,000 square miles — an area nearly the size of Texas. The amendment, which was authored by Rep. Stewart (R-UT) and Rep. Gosar (R-AZ), appears to have two main purposes.

First, it would block the efforts of local communities in Maine, Utah, Arizona, and elsewhere which have been asking President Obama to establish new national monuments in their states.

In southern Utah, for example, the president would not be able to respond to the requests of tribal nations that he protect the Bears Ears area, which is a hotbed of grave robbing, looting, and desecration of sacred sites. It would also prevent the president from protecting Gold Butte in Nevada, where Cliven Bundy illegally grazed his cows for decades, as a national monument.

[...]

Second, the Stewart-Gosar amendment would make a major concession to the demands of scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy and his followers who argue that the U.S. government should have no authority over national public lands in the West. Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan were arrested and indicted in February for their involvement in armed standoffs with federal law enforcement officials in Nevada and Oregon.

Now, I don't want to make any unfair generalizations, but if one of the outcomes of your amendment is to make things better for Cliven Bundy and his family, you might want to consider whether or not to self-identify as an asshole going forward.

You Cannot Call it Alien 5




Sigourney Weaver made a weird cameo in the film Finding Dory and she confirms that one of her next projects will essentially ignore the third and fourth sequels to Alien:

The 30th anniversary celebrations of James Cameron’s Aliens are getting underway, and as part of that, Sigourney Weaver has been speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the film. And, somewhat inevitably, the conversation shifted to Neill Blomkamp’s delayed Alien 5 movie, which is set to be a direct follow-on from Aliens. 

Blomkamp’s project has had to get in line as Ridley Scott makes Alien: Covenant and perhaps further Alien prequels (at least two more are planned, but it’s unclear if they have to be made before Alien 5 can get going), and per the original plan, it would have been shooting by now. Instead, it's in a little bit of limbo right now.

Blomkamp’s film is still an active project, though, and Weaver has revealed a few more details about the film. “It’s just as if, you know, the path forks and one direction goes off to three and four and another direction goes off to Neill’s movie,” she said, seemingly confirming that the idea is to overlook the third and fourth Alien films.

If you're going to ignore the 3rd and 4th movies, why the hell are you calling it Alien 5? I am hoping that's the working title. Shouldn't you just called it Aliens 2.5 or Alien Three: Huge Mistakes Have Been Rectified in This Series? Or am I being simplistic?

I do recall the Alien3 movie as being unnecessarily dark and dreary. It was innovative in that it used a camera angle seen from the aliens point-of-view as it scurried through corridors, but, beyond that, it was a huge, unimaginative let down. I have no working memory of a fourth Alien movie, as I'm sure many people do as well. It sort of reminds me of the Julianne Moore version of Jurassic Park that no one saw.

Is There Anything Crazier Than Pokémon?




I am old and out of touch:

Police in Australia have issued a statement following the release of new video game Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go - out now in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - is an augmented-reality edition of the popular game franchise and sees the fictional creatures superimposed into real life settings.

Following the game's release down under, the Darwin Police Station in Australia's North Territory issued a statement telling fans to not visit their station looking for Pokémon and to be aware of their surroundings while playing the game.

The statement reads: "For those budding Pokemon Trainers out there using Pokémon Go - whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don't actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs."

"It's also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn't going anywhere fast."

And stay off my lawn! GRR!

Guccifer Lied

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900.0"] Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka, "Guccifer" [/caption]


In what has to be one of the craziest detours in an insane political season, we now have this bit of news:

Comey says FBI interviewed hacker Guccifer (1) and he did not hack Clinton’s server.

“He did not, he admitted that was a lie.”

And, as many of you may or may not know, Guccifer is still alive:

Marcel Lehel Lazar, a federal inmate also known as Guccifer, is at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va. He is alive and has never been missing from this facility.

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne
July 6, 2016

I am so glad that I get to be the one to post about Guccifer today. I was afraid that this would get past me and I would be caught as flat-footed as the House Republicans were today when James Comey ended up being a credible witness before their committee.

Abstract 141




Abstract 141 is 9x12" on canvas board.













Abstract 140




I have a fairly large number of abstracts to publish in the weeks ahead. I have a number of them on canvas board but most of them are on watercolor paper that I'm trying to use up because it has been sitting here for years.

Abstract 140 is 9x12" on canvas board.













Protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area




Here's to the people trying to stop the wholesale poisoning of an American treasure:

MINNESOTA’S Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is one of America’s most popular wild destinations. Water is its lifeblood. Over 1,200 miles of streams wend their way through 1.1 million acres thick with fir, pine and spruce and stippled by lakes left behind by glaciers. Moose, bears, wolves, loons, ospreys, eagles and northern pike make their home there and in the surrounding Superior National Forest.

All of this is now threatened by a proposal for a huge mine to extract copper, nickel and other metals from sulfide ores. The mine would lie within the national forest along the South Kawishiwi River, which flows directly into the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

The prospect of any major industrial activity in the watershed of such a place would be deeply troubling. But this kind of heavy-metal mining is in a destructive class all its own. Enormous amounts of unusable waste rock containing sulfides are left behind on the surface. A byproduct of this kind of mining is sulfuric acid, which often finds its way into nearby waterways. Similar mines around the country have already poisoned lakes and thousands of miles of streams.

To me, the area is synonymous with the life's work of Sigurd Olson, one of the great unsung characters of the 20th Century. He nagged and lobbied and wrote endlessly about the area we now know as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Can you imagine what that place would look like if the mines and the businessmen had been able to get there first?

Olson has been dead for 34 years, but there are still people who carry on in his memory. If you were going to make a movie or write a book, you could do a lot worse than choosing to tell the story of the man who saved over a million acres of pristine wilderness from the kind of people who would poison a river and walk away rich.












Rolling Back the De-Militarization of the Police




Someone should tell Senator Pat Toomey to go pound sand:

During his time in the Senate, Pat Toomey has rarely made an issue of police militarization and law enforcement responses to terrorism.

Which is what makes his current push to arm the police so puzzling.

In a letter to the White House last week, Toomey urged the president to rescind an executive order that blocked transfers of surplus high-caliber military equipment to local law enforcement.

“You have continued to restrict local police access to armored vehicles, explosives, protective helmets, and other lifesaving, federal equipment,” Toomeywrote to Obama. “Specifically, you have restricted local police departments from using federal funds for these items.”

Toomey cited the BearCat vehicle that saved lives while the Orlando attacker was taking hostages inside the nightclub in order to bolster his argument that police departments need access to this type of equipment.

Yeah, about that thing. The Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck (BearCat) is fine for a SWAT team, but not if they're being called out for routine bullshit. It is not appropriate for the Deputy Sheriff of Shit Holler, Kentucky to have as his personal vehicle, which is what happens when local law enforcement begins amassing military-grade weapons and equipment. Despite the fact that these agencies weren't supposed to get this gear, they got it anyway. So much for the rule of law.

Oh, and this happens, too.

The police have too much of this stuff. They are fully militarized and this prevents them from serving and protecting their citizens. Haven't we figured this out yet? 

How about we talk about the lives of the people who are saved when the police aren't using military weapons to kill them during traffic stops and the like? Senator Toomey is not exactly concerned about their body count, is he?












Your College Degree is Why America is Horrible Right Now




I am probably being ridiculous, but oh well:

Both geographically and demographically, the British referendum split the U.K. along lines familiar in America. An extensive election-day survey by Lord Michael Ashcroft, a British pollster, found that the leave campaign carried over three-fifths of those without four-year college degrees, a comparable number of seniors, and a narrow majority of all whites. Election results showed the leave campaign amassing big margins outside of major cities. The campaign to remain won over two-thirds of non-whites, about three-fifths of college graduates, and big majorities among younger and urban voters. In London, which recently elected one of the western world’s first Muslim mayors, 60 percent voted to stay.

All of this replicates American patterns. Democrats now rely on an urbanized coalition of Millennials, minorities, and socially liberal college-educated and single whites (especially women). Republicans thrive among older, non-college educated and religiously devout whites, especially outside of major cities. In 2012, President Obama carried less than one-fourth of America’s counties; he won fewer counties than any presidential winner since at least 1920. But because Obama so dominated the nation’s population centers, he triumphed by 5 million votes.

In a way, having a college degree means I can't join the racist, belching rabble and vote for Donald Trump. I have too much information--I'm a high information voter--and I can't just sit here and write stupid things all day long (since when has that ever stopped anyone, including me?).

What I think gets left out of the equation is that we are faced with choices that have not energized the populations of either Britain or America. President Obama was a once-in-a-lifetime bolt out of nowhere. He energized millions and he promised renewal. His legacy will be that of a largely successful president who could have done more with a reasonable opposition party. The fact that he accomplished anything at all was entirely in spite of the hate expressed towards him as the first black president. 

With Hillary being the first female president, we'll see some renewal of hope and we'll see more women participating in public life, I would imagine. What we'll also see is a mirror image of the racism expressed towards Obama in the misogyny that will be directed like a broadside at Hillary. 

Like Obama, she'll advance the movement towards a more equitable and fair United States of America. And she'll be denied any credit for doing her best to make people's lives better, just like Obama.












Quietly Ending the Death Penalty in America




In case you weren't aware of it, the death penalty is going away. Well, a better way to say it might be fading away:

Arizona prison officials told a federal court Friday they could no longer perform executions due to problems obtaining lethal-injection drugs, effectively ending capital punishment in the state for the foreseeable future.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said it amended its execution protocols to omit midazolam and that the state lacked supplies of either sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, according to a filing in a federal district court in Phoenix, Arizona. All three drugs are sedatives used to render inmates unconscious during a lethal injection.

The department’s “lack of the drugs and its current inability to obtain these drugs means that the Department is presently incapable of carrying out an execution,” the filing said. The state’s current supply of midazolam is also scheduled to expire before a lawsuit by five death-row inmates challenging the state’s use of the drug will be completed. 

One of the things that has always brought international condemnation and shame to the United States has been the uneven and unfair application of the death penalty. Many countries do not even have a death penalty. America is really more into revenge and applying the Biblical punishment of "an eye for an eye." This has become impossible in a day and age when companies become aware of the fact that the drugs they are manufacturing are perfect for putting people to death. 

Anyway, it's long overdue for the United States to join the civilized world in 2016. There will always be some asshole who calls for hanging, the guillotine, or the firing squad. Ignore them.