(Thanks for the link, Mathew!)
Saturday, January 31, 2009
(Thanks for the link, Mathew!)
I'd note the final paragraph where our military thinks everyone is named John Doe. I guess they are an "Army of One"...
Friday, January 30, 2009
Great song and sound. The Buckinghams almost made it to the big time. Summer of '67, wonderful.....
This sounds like crackpot research to me....
I've always thought that starvation diets merely made it seem like you'd lived longer...
I'm proud to see D.C., Baltimore and lil' ol' Ocean City ranked right up there. If only they'd added the fantasy listing for people that you want to kill, I know that the Bailey's Crossroads and Culmore areas would be far and away the #1 spot in the whole Universe. If there's a driver there capable of figuring out how to get beyond second gear, I've not found them yet.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
It's a dark and frozen night here at the Manor, and you gaze out at the waste and realize that "I'm getting older too". See ya tomorrow...
I've always enjoyed these guys, sort of a guilty pleasure for me.
Fun song. That's Eddy "Electric Avenue" Grant singing...
(Thanks for the link, Ed!)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Fear & Loathing in the Snow
I am now safely ensconced at home, and dreading shoveling out the iceberg that has taken over my driveway.
My attitude was not always like this. I am reminded that some of the most fun I ever had as a kid was in snow. Sledding was a near obsession in the old neighborhood. My street (Crestwood Drive) was on a hill angling down at about 20 degrees. Cutting into it was another road (Edge Hill), angling down at about 25-45 degrees. Given an inch of ice, you had sledding heaven. And I use the word heaven on purpose - forget about foxholes, there were no atheists when it came to us kids praying for a snow day from school. All eyes went skyward pleading with the almighty that the big test could be delayed a day or two and that we could get down to the serious business of sledding. I learned of the futility of prayer from those days. If there'd been any divine response we'd of been glaciated from the day after Thanksgiving until St. Patrick's Day. The Alexandria Ice Age would have been one for the record books. Instead, we'd have to take our chances with earthly meteorology. And you did not have the current wussiness and liability-conscious society that you do now. Schools did not close unless it was a serious snow storm, (and that decision was based upon whether the buses would run - we didn't have school buses, the public transportation system was used, if they wanted to make a buck and keep running, then we went to school). Otherwise we'd have to claw out way to classes as best we could. Paths were carved through the wilderness, and we trudged into white hell in search of an education. Some, the weak, wouldn't make it and fall by the wayside. We'd strip the bodies of coats or anything else that might aid us in keeping warm. I still have nightmares, for sometimes the freshly fallen would be sliced open and we'd warm our hands within the still-warm body, trying to get some feeling back into our fingers. You develop a certain emotional callous that gets you through, no matter how horrible the times are. Of course, some of the bodies I came upon were missing organs. I tried not to think of the hunger that must have driven some of my fellow pilgrims. I know that what I've described sounds horrible, especially for a grade schooler to have gone through, but it had it's value, it prepared me perfectly for life at T. C. Williams High School. You want real horror - ask me about my freshman year...
At any rate, we were talking about sledding. One has to remember that we considered it a contact sport back in the old neighborhood. One would try to force others off the road. This was done by a variety of means. Ramming and sideswiping were popular. The coolest, and most dangerous, method was to reach out and grab the back rail. It was tricky, and only could be done on some sleds. Fortunately, one of those was the most popular - the Flexible Flyer. The rails of the Flyer would run along the entire length of the body board, and then would curve up and under that board. This would create a handle-like extension just behind the body board. Like an old WWI flying ace, you'd try to maneuver yourself directly behind and slightly to the left (if you were right handed) of your victim, matching their speed exactly. When in position, you'd reach out with your right hand, grab the "handle" and push it violently to the left. This would cause the rear of the sled to fish-tail out to the left at high speed, almost certainly causing it to roll over. A lucky or particularly accomplished sledder might even get to run over the rider as he flipped off the catapulting sled. This is what we called fun.
Of course, the maneuver itself had certain dangers. A short sled meant that the rider's legs stretched over and past the rear of it, putting your face or hand in range of a violent kick if they knew you were there. And merely reaching for the rail of a speeding sled meant the possibility of getting caught in it, ripping off your hand, or getting run over and losing several fingers. The sled runs were always well marked with grim markers of failed attacks. One learned precision during those Winters.
Upon entering high school, my old friend Edmund and I decided to make the ultimate sled. It was based on the chopper motorcycle design, (I always thought those looked so cool). We took the front steering mechanism of his sled and attached it to to the front of mine, extended out an extra foot by a true 2x4 board, and secured by steel bolts whose quality and size rarely used outside of the hull of battleships. We then took the body board and lifted the front onto a block of wood above the frame, making it lean back at about a 15 degree angle. There was no "rail handle" in the back. I had a Yankee Clipper, and they knew better than to put such nonsense on their sleds. The rails were made of solid iron, and weighed a ton. They were painted red, (no doubt to hide the blood stains of anyone we ran over - Yankee Clippers rocked!). We sharpened and waxed them until they were like twin Excaliburs of icy doom. I gotta tell you - the thing looked beautiful, a sort of proto-steam punk Ben Hur/Easy Rider sledding nightmare. The coolest looking sled ever made. Ever.
To be honest, there was one fatal flaw in our design. The steering mechanism was way out front, and without any weight on it. Steering ability ran from poor to nightmarish. We couldn't get into fast maneuvering "dogfights", we had to rely on pure force and ultra-coolness to get us through. And we did get through. With both of us sitting on, combined with the extra size and iron railing, the thing must have weighed over 250 pounds. Once we got going, it was pure death coming towards you. Nothing could stop us. People standing on the side would throw sleds out into our path and we'd run over 'em, leaving nothing but kindling and obscenities behind. If we hit you, you went down. And you didn't get back up. My only regret was that there was no siding to the contraption. Otherwise, we could have marked our kills like the aces of old. We WERE the Blue Max...
I am certainly glad I had a chance to grow up when I did and where I did. The lessons learned were valuable, and sledding was a big part of it. The fact that my hands now shake uncontrollably, that I wake up every night screaming , and am dependent on mainlining bourbon to maintain have been a small price to pay.
Monday, January 26, 2009
This is a really amazing collection.
(Thanks for the link, Chris!)
(Thanks for the link, Mathew!)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
And we plod along...
It is at times like these that I and many others lapse into a form of magical thinking - hoping that there is some expression, some collection of words that one can utter that will make things better, or at least add some measure of comfort. But the words don't really exist; the spell remains uncast. We are left muttering about being sorry, and that's about it. Susan - Linda and I are there for you; we know that's not enough, but that's all there can be. It's a damn shame...
Loss can happen at any time, of course - and it does. But to my mind it is particularly pointed at this time of year. I really don't think I suffer from any of the real or imagined seasonal disorders*, but there's always been something about January that speaks to me of loss and a certain desperate feeling. I've written before about nights spent in less than sober abandon wandering about the bars of Gtown or Foggy Bottom (with some of you reading this in attendance...) during this time of year back in the 70's. We faced unemployment, lost lovers, lost opportunities and grimy weather. In late January, DC is still facing another probable seven to eight weeks of gray and cold weather. It's one of those times that leaves you thinking; wondering where you've been and where you're going, (if anywhere). You count your losses and see if you can cover all your bets. Sometimes the tally gets grim.
At any rate, one of the big hits from those days was Al Stewart's "Time Passages", (written for another old friend of mine...). The lyrics express the season perfectly - seeming to look both forward and backward simultaneously. Al is a master of verbal time distortion. It seemed appropriate then, and just as much so now. Enjoy.
As for me, I'll be taking the last train home tonight. See ya tomorrow...
(*I am disordered in all seasons....)
The original was fun, hopefully this'll be okay.
And the out-takes are at: http://superfad.com/player.php?project=251&item=566
(Thanks for the links, Chris!)
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I've only heard a few snippets so far. The review seems accurate enough, (until I've digested the whole album). I'm not sure I'm onboard that all of Springsteen's lyrics have to be profound. Certainly the many influences pointed out by the reviewer weren't always competing with Dylan, (ofttimes Dylan isn't competing with Dylan). It sounds pretty cool, actually.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
here we go...
My main concern would be Wilson Bridge, it's been made the epicenter of all traffic in the mid-Atlantic region by today's Inaugural. If there's an accident there, even a fender bender, or a flat tire, or someone just slows down to look at the Potomac, it's going to be the ripple effect from hell. We'll simply have to give up, abandon the city (by walking), and start up a new Capital somewhere else...
Monday, January 19, 2009
I sure hope it was a Stone Ale.
I might add a few more:
1. If you're lost while driving, pull over. Do not slow down. Pull over. Get out of the god damned way.
2. Pay attention to traffic lights. When it's Green - go. Don't sit around like some jerk.
3. The place is a newcomer's nightmare - get a map and learn to use it.
4. Never ever ever drive under 55mph on the highway. Never ever try to get on one doing less than that. 60 is better, and 70 better yet.
5. If you fly in, realize that of the 3 airports, BWI is so far away that it will take you days to get anywhere else. And no one will pick you up there. Don't even ask.
6. The District of Columbia is a separate Federal district. It is not, I repeat - NOT, in any state, no matter how incomprehensible that seems to you. So stop asking about it and debating with us when we tell you. You just look stupid.
7. If you're from Texas, stop talking about it, (I know it'll be hard). We couldn't care less.
8. We know that the traffic circles are insane, that the congestion is horrid, that crime is rampant, and that prices are outrageous. We know.
9. Telling people here that you're a taxpayer and thus should be treated better than everyone else just makes you look as dumb as you really are. It doesn't work in your hometown, and it sure as hell won't work here. We're all soaked up in taxes - you aren't special.
10. If you come in the Winter it's going to be dark, cold, wet, drab and downright ugly. If you come in Summer it will be hotter than the sun, with humidity to match. You've been warned.
(Actually, I do too....)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Obamastock - a little review
Obama and Biden's speeches were pretty good, (although I personally get bored with the sound bites about Lincoln - another personal prejudice). But the finale was quite moving. Pete Seeger, in what is probably close to being a farewell performance, leading the crowd in singing This Land Is Your Land, (and leaving in the more pointed lyrics!) - now that was something. That person, that song, this event. A moment of historical evolution - crystalized. Really something. Politics is symbolism. And this was symbolism on a grand scale to those of us with a sense of history and sociology.
I do not share the deep emotions many people have about the new Prez, either pro or con. Caution and cynicism increase with every year. But it was a good show; it had some points to make, and it did so about as well as the situation allowed.
And finally, I'd point out that it was one nice the backdrop. Despite the best efforts of the criminals who run this city, DC is still one of the most moving places in the nation. To be at the Lincoln Memorial and stare out across the reflecting pool towards the Washington Monument is one of the best scenes in the world, (I'd also mention the other views towards the Capitol and across Memorial Bridge to Arlington. To see people gather there, in hope, optimism and joy (even if I don't share it) is quite touching. It's quite a town...
On the 30th Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me...
Always hated shoplifters....
pretty cool idea...
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Ah yes, the ancient Tibetan process of neodymium activator magnets with resonator arrays. I know it well. And for only 495 American dollars, (not Tibetan...). I love the efforts to relieve the rich of their money.
I admit I've never paid much attention to Irving, me being a fanatic anti-nazi, and all. But I caught this article, and it's nice to see that I've missed no more than the mewlings of a pathetic, spoiled, turd.
I just think these are so cool - especially speeding through a crosswalk....
I'd note my disappointment that they don't mention Route 7 between Bailey's Crossroads and 7 Corners....
I'm not going to join twitter to find out. If you do, let me know how/if it works...
I wish it were a bit closer. I think this'd be a kick to attend.
If you've not read any of the Rumpole books, (or seen the brilliant TV series) - do so. Wonderful stuff!
Friday, January 16, 2009
At any rate, I am home now, and not planning on moving for four days. I've got huge stacks of both books and DVD's, the refrigerator is full, and Linda's on the way home with a gallon of Virginia Gentleman. Let The Deluge Begin....
(Thanks for the link, Millie!)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Fortunately, these side effects are negated by the addition of a jigger or two of Jameson's....
One of the greats. I missed seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan because I was too enthralled watching McGoohan play the proto anti-hero Scarecrow of Romney Marsh on Disney that night. As a kid, I was totally enthralled with that character, (and still am - the DVD was FINALLY released last month and Linda got it for me for the Holidays - it was wonderful watching it again). Then a couple years later, Secret Agent came out (it had started as a series in Britain called Danger Man), and I was enthralled again by the more serious and cerebral entry in the whole mass media spy thing. (McGoohan was originally offered the role of James Bond, but turned it down). It's still in my Top 20 TV shows of all time. And then we come to The Prisoner. Probably my all-time fave TV show. And what a show! You can see a bloated ad slower-witted progeny in the series "Lost", and more intelligent renditions and hints in The Matrix, V For Vendetta, Babylon 5, The X Files, and almost any film dealing with fears of the State and society, and doubts about one's place there. McGoohan was one of those rare entertainers who considered thinking to be part of that entertainment. He was absolutely Essential.
A local treasure. The only reason I'd ever watch sports news. I really do miss this guy. Glenn was genuine.
Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris on this date in 1784, officially ending the Revolutionary War.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Great Spectorish production...
Ah, it was one of your proverbial hot August nights, about a hundred years ago at Merriweather Post, that I first heard her perform this tune - just staring up at the stars wondering what would ever happen to me. I'm still trying to figure that out. But it was a beautiful night.
My fave song by them. Always reminds me of my beloved Colorado....
Stiv Bators was great...
Wonderful song. I'm pretty sure this clip was taken from the old Music Scene TV show.
I completely stand by my earlier statements and predictions. This is going to be the ugliest thing since the '68 riots. What's interesting is how vulnerable DC is and always will be to terrorist attack. It's the 900 pound gorilla in the room, that everyone tries to ignore. You can't make this place or event "safe". Despite the police-state mentality that's grown around here over the past 35 years, it's childishly simple to freeze this town. I, and anyone who has lived here any length of time can easily come up with a half a dozen ways, and cheaply too. I won't go into them here. But I will point out a mini-example: the infamous DC snipers. Two losers, (openly aided by the ultra-incompetent egomaniac of a police chief of Montgomery County) put this town into a tizzy for weeks. They were poor and they were crazy wankers. Think of what a bunch of truly smart and prepared people could do, (even if Chief Moose is history...). Sorry police staters - you can't stop it if they want it to happen; you can only gridlock the entire region in your futile quest to do so.
Of course, the toy companies will eventually discover that the mind links can work both ways and begin programming the little tykes to demand even more crap....
(Thanks for the link, Chris!)
Monday, January 12, 2009
Fun stuff! Never well known, and now almost forgotten....
My fave DC5 song. Proto-Sixties rebelliousness.
Funk silliness, but I've always liked this song. If I remember correctly, this song was inescapable in all the Gtown bars about 33 years ago...
I love the Rads, and I doubt the number of Americans who've heard of them would need two hands to count them. They were on the old pub rock label, Chelsea, (along with great Count Bishops) and were one of the few groups (along with the legendary Eddie & The Hot Rods) to form the "missing link" from pub rock to punk rock around '76 and '77. That period of time was very short, but very intense and exciting. There's a wonderful Rhino box set just waiting to happen for those days....
Love this old Randy Newman tune. Reminds me of my first "adult" party. I was a freshman in high school and invited to an acquaintance's place for a party that had college students attending. I stood wide-eyed with amazement throughout it, and am sure I looked like a total dweeb. And now I sit here in my jaded, cynical and besotted state, incapable of anything short of mild amusement. Such is the way of things....
I've got my galoshes ready...
Sunday, January 11, 2009
This may be a rather unfair experiment. Everyone's late for work, the station is crowded and hurried, etc. Set him up at Dupont Circle at luchtime and see what happens.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Very lucky coincidence for that truck driver. Have driven that road many times (in the Summer) and even then it can be intinidating to a flatlander. I can't imagine it in Winter.
A great book, one of the most influential and important ever written. Published on this date in 1776.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Love this song - no more words and no more promises....
Ah, spring of '69. This was probably the last true doo wop hit. Great song.
Beautiful mellow funk.
A wonderful mix of early hard rock and balladeer tune.
You're up all night worrying and scared. Then this tune comes on the radio at 3:00AM. It doesn't comfort, but it does educate.
just got a snail mail catalog from these guys. Their focus is almost entirely western 20th century stuff. Lots of models, toy soldiers, and gee gaws to satisy your inner warmonger....
Thursday, January 08, 2009
But now it appears to be The End. The minimum predictions are for a million people to come in - and some are predicting four times that many! It'll practically double the population of the metro area. There's not room for one million, much less four! And there are claims of 10,000 chartered buses. Don't even think about all the cars coming in, there's no frigging way you can find room for 10,000 buses in the District. I'm not sure you could do it inside the Beltway. They'll be parking 'em in Leesburg! And the cars! Where the hell will they go?!? Mark my words, you'll be able to set up parking lots in the Shenandoah - and get takers. For there will be no parking in the District. The core has been taken over - both for driving and parking. All the folks who'd normally be there (both natives and visitors), will be pushed out to the fringes of the Capital and the neighboring suburbs of Maryland, which will crowd out and displace more people who will move outward, like the a rippling effect of the damned. Imagine getting your hands on the biggest, ugliest, smelliest armful of camel turds that you can, and then throwing that glob into a murky cesspool full of unidentifiable dead things. That's what the parking situation is going to be like.
Now today, I got a flier at work describing in detail all of the road closings for the area on the inaugural weekend. I looked it over, and nearly fainted. I could only keep screaming out, OH....MY....GOD..... Every bridge across the Potomac except for the Beltway is closed. Shirley Highway is closed. 66 inside the Belway is closed. Parts of the GW Parkway are closed. Now, please remember, the Beltway bridges form an integral part of the whole Interstate 95 corridor - the main north/south highway in America. Just the trucks and drive-by traffic alone is horrendous, even on a good day. And now they're going to try and funnel the rest of DC AND the trillion inaugural visitors onto those bridges and off those other roadways. I...I can't think of the terms to describe this. Adjectives fail me. It'll be like some nightmare from the Book of Revelations. The traffic jam is going to some sort of grid-locked Boschian drug coma. It won't be just DC - this thing is going to back up traffic to places that won't even know what hit them. It'll last for years. It may never clear out. Whole generations will be born and die at the Springfield interchange. After a few centuries, mutations will arise and breed, forming some sort of cannibalistic highway species, feeding on people stuck in buses. It will be horrible. I can see traffic jams in all directions, affecting Baltimore, Wilminton, York, Thurmont, Hagerstown, Frederick, Winchester, Culpepper, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Harper's Ferry, Annapolis, and even Delmarva, (as folks attempt to side-step the apocalpse in DC).
The fact is, that with all of these road closures and the effect it'll have, your road maps will be worse than useless. You'd be better off with a copy of Dante's Inferno. That'll be more accurate and instructive.
Linda and I were first considering leaving town for the weekend. But we honestly don't think we'd be able to get back in! We're hunkering down. I'm busily stocking up on bourbon to prepare me for the horrors to come. And they will come. It is perhaps fortunate that we don't have children, as I'd probably kill them the Friday before, to prevent them from witnessing or succumbing to any of the hellishness to come. But, as it is, I'm reduced to scouring the neighborhood for others' children, to "save" them instead. I am a generous person, and would hate to see them suffer so...
At any rate, for those of you who have had some sort of hankering to visit our city during these times, I have one bit of heartfelt advice - DON'T! I wouldn't come within 150 miles of this hellmouth. In fact, I wouldn't even look in our general direction between the 16th and the 23rd, regardless of where you are. This is going to be something....
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
(Thanks for the link, Linda!)
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
What a life. A legend.
Great bottle, you just know that the vodka's gonna be mediocre. I almost never touch the stuff now. I still remember being disgusted with Jimmy Carter's nomination back in the summer of '76. I had a fifth of Smirnoff's and a bag of peanuts which I proceeded to devour in my disgust- and have not been the same since. The one exception to my abstinence is my too-infrequent excursions to the Serbian Crown. There's something about feasting on wild boar, listening to gypsy violins and being served by some sort of Czarist exile that makes vodka essential to the mix.
(Thanks for the link, Sandy!)
The judges are insane, the cops are stupid and corrupt, and the mayor is a crack head. My Hometown!
Monday, January 05, 2009
It's a typical January here in DC, it's wet and chilly, the sky a forlorn gray and predictions of worse weather tomorrow. The heat grates will be crowded tonight.
I still remember the first time I heard this, my friend Ron, (one of the old neighborhood gang) had just purchased it, and I was totally blown away. It may have have been the first pop song to feature bagpipes in it. This version is quite ragged. But then, so is Eric, and I'm feeling somewhat tattered myself.
(Thanks for the link, Mathew!)
Great film, awesome antics, no way I'd ever think about doing it.
(Thanks for the link, Millie!)
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Neat artwork based on decrepit factories and other buildings.
I've always kind of wanted to go there for the festival. I know it'd be unbelievably cold, (even in the summer Ouray can get a little nippy), but some of the photos I've seen have been amazing.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
This is kind of neat, actually. I've been tempted to do something similiar for the benefit of players in my fantasy role playing campaign for in-between gaming sessions.
Friday, January 02, 2009
One of my fave folkies. Absolutely charming....
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Not necessary. I've never lost track of a drink in my life....