Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mathematical Pi on the Halloween Freakout

Now sure I could post some of the usual suspects for the start of the consumption season. But I'm not one to always go down the well worn path. So today, in honor of the moon, moon pies, cherry pies, and especially chocolate coconut cream pies I thought a little appreciation should be shown to the smallest pi of them all 3.14 and a bunch of digits.

After all, you can't have much of anything without a circle, no matter what the square boys say. For those of you who are traditionalists, I don't want to leave you hanging so...

Now I know number and math phobias are not what Halloween is about but go with the bit and enjoy a bit of cultural mash-up that ain't natural but it is enlightening.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Search Engine Tips - How To Use Intitle Operator

This was an experiment I did to see if I could make a short video explaining a topic. I want to get better at creating informational videos and screencast.

At some point you have to take a chance. The first steps are the hardest.

I looked at, Bing and Google and made this short video screencast on using the Intitle search operator.

Feedback welcomed.

Star Trek Exhibit At Hollywood and Highland Center

I was raised on it. I can't help it and don't want too. TOS, The Animated Series, Next Generation, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise...ok I only watched the first season or so but I ain't hating on it. I just had other things to do.

Uhura's Uniform TOS
Anyway, there is a traveling exhibit of Star Trek stuff over at Hollywood and Highland. Yes, I know, you are too old for that kind thing. You want to jump off the franchise grid. The Great Bird has left the galaxy.

I understand. I do. It is just that I never made it to the Vegas Star Trek Museum or an actual convention. I meant to but life happened or it was not financial possible at the time.

And talk about your cultural values. You can drag, er, encourage the young ones to come along and soak up some infinite diversity in infinite combination as they work their way through the educational guides.

No fooling. Start them young. Think about you old age and the two of you don't have much in common. This could help. Common ground or a sedative. Your choice.

So if you have the time and between $10 and $16 bucks you can hop on the Red Line because those that know Hollywood understand traffic is a blip.

For more info or other stuff that is happening at Hollywood and Highland check out the website. I hear the joint will temporarily be taken over by the vampire crowd but a few phaser blasts will clear those suckers out in a hurry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Santa Ana Winds

The Santa Ana wind is kicking up something fierce. All afternoon I've heard leaves, soft whistles and metal expanding and contracting. The birds gave up and called it a day. The crickets are telling folks to lay low.

These winds are nothing new but when they blow this hard they force you to pay attention to nature, the will of the seasons and just how much you nose can twitch to keep from sneezing.

I happen to like the wind when it is warm but we had enough of that fire thing so we are experiencing cool Santa Ana winds. Unusual but, you know change is good.

So they say.

So sleep will be a challenge tonight because I'll hear everything I don't want or need to hear.

The sound of the wind, I don't mind.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Soupy Sales and Pookie - A Rememberance

Yep, the pie man has gone to meet the owner of the bakery. Just found out that Soupy Sales passed on October 23, 2009. I was just a wee kid when this show aired. I'm not sure if I saw the NY version or the one that went national.

I didn't catch all of the jokes but I was grooving on White Fang and those pies.

Soupy didn't break the fourth wall of television; at times Soupy demolished it. It was fun, silly, corny and who could ask for anything more. There isn't much more I can say but "Hey, Do the Mouse."

Friday, October 23, 2009

These Are The Days of Our Lives on the Finally Friday Freakout

I was reading Dave Pollard's blog "How to Save the World." I check into it every now and again to see if he has figured it out. Because, you know we live here and perhaps there is a better way to live.

Dave wasn't feeling the positive vibe this week in his post "Nobody Knows Anything."

No one is in control. Obama isn't getting anything done, despite being the most powerful person on the planet, because he can't. The 'leaders' aren't going to deal with climate change or peak oil or pandemic disease or unsustainable debts, because no one has the power or authority to do anything, and because it would be political suicide to admit that the only solutions that might work will be radical, painful, and require a lot of sacrifice from everyone. So all you get is posturing, and it's just going to get worse. This is what unsustainable means.
I think Dave is having a form of burn out or something. It is hard. Waiting for people to have a clue that the gimme-gimmies are not working as well as they have in the past.

That how we continue in the future is dependent on how we act today.

There are times I feel the same way. Smoke it down and then start a new. And that kinda defeats the purpose of "How to Save the World." This next sentence is unavoidable. We are the world. Ok, a part of it.

I picked this video for a couple of reasons. Freddie Mercury was no angel but he was true to himself. He lived his life. Freddie certainly loved. This video was recorded toward the end of his time on the planet.

You don't mess around when you know you are about to croak. You do what you have to do. You speak your peace and prepare. In black and white the video still has a spark. I think Freddie wanted to let those close to him know that he did love. His gift was performing. Freddie wasn't finished yet. Not quiet ready to lay it down.

Maybe Dave Pollard is right; change cannot come from pundits and so-called leaders. It will have to come from the bottom up. It can't be legislated. The change has to be enacted by real people in action. Not sound bits or slogans.

Can we do it in love and respect? That is up to us. Not looking too good at the moment.

Dave is getting pissed that after 40 years from high school he now realizes that people don't know squat? Dude, I hear you. Except that many of us do know. There is action.

Slowly, so slowly we are moving toward the change that will exist long after we are dust.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shake It Like Brunhilde – The Opera Bloggers

Opera music is a lot like okra to me. it If I know it is heading my way I run in the opposite direction. I don’t like Opera music. Well, most of it anyway. If it is not wrapped in a Warner Brothers cartoon or some form of animation I suffer. Classical music, yes, rack up some Glenn Gould and I will be happy; that dude could rock the 88’s, classically speaking.

Honestly, I gave Opera a fair shot. I watched a performance of Madame Butterfly. Came away thinking she was a Class-A fool. I watched Fosca, not to be confused with Tosca, and again was shaking my head about women who choose to die for love. Can’t count the times I have tried to listen to the Wagner Ring Cycle on the radio and woke up the next morning with the lights still on.

I’m not proud about it but I did get a good night sleep.

So why am I doing a post about Opera music? Because all forms of music need to be supported, encouraged and exposed to a broader audience. I got it figured this way. Some talented person who likes Opera but doesn’t like all the women killing themselves will someday write an opera with no dame off’ing herself in the name of love.

But even if I liked the stuff it would be a challenge to find public access to the music. The popular music industry crowds out anything different or performers that are fully clothed. In America, the Public Broadcasting Service has cut way back on airing theatrical productions. The prices for Opera performances? Yowser! Even the bum rush tickets need a co-signer.

Ok, I exaggerate but not by much.

The fact is Opera music doesn’t lend easily to visual exposure. The few classical radio stations are, well, radio. I rarely turn mine on unless it is time for L.A. Theater Works. Spoken word theater, not Opera. So I’m going to take myself up on a personal challenge and find Opera bloggers.

The Performers

Jessica at A Soprano Steps Out writes about balancing her auditions, the day job and her life in and outside of Opera music. In one of her posts Jessica reflects on an audition:
Saturday, the audition was fine. It really was. I mostly loved it, which is why the couple of questionable notes among dozens of other good ones really piss me off. I felt like I was really present in what I was doing, except that for some odd reason, I could feel my poor little knees shaking, and it seemed impossible that the panel didn't see it.

DivaVixen is a Mezo Soprano at Viva La Diva. There is the day job at the gym, interactions with three-year olds and having to sing “art songs” as opposed to arias.

And a lot of the time, you only get to sing art songs if you are performing for a specific art song competition or are famous enough to be asked to sing a recital for the paying public. I am a LOOOONG way off from holding recitals and have managed to dodge, thus far, the art song competitions.

There are fees for auditions, having to listen to contrary advice and a nerve racking experience of The Mikado that will not be forgotten. I liked reading their stories about the challenges on pursuing their careers in Opera. I have questions about the exercising that is done, I think it is for endurance on stage and not necessarily for shape.

Joyce DiDonato has a performance website and a blog at YankeeDiva.

Hey Opera people, take a hint from Joyce and post video of yourself and a bit of performance on your site. I could see who she is, a bit of her personality and yeah, a bit of music. No seriously, she has a great voice.

Appreciators of Opera Music

Intermezzo is another soprano this time from London who writes about Opera from a devoted fan/critic perspective. There is love but she isn’t afraid to say if a performance was less than stellar.

GaranĨa is more problematical. Carmen needs a bit of dirt under her fingernails, and no, an elegant smudge of brown greasepaint is not the same thing. Her agile, honeyed voice is elegance personified; there's little to suggest an earthy gypsy heart beating beneath.
The Opera Tattler is similar in style but also writes about Opera news, gossip and what happens on and off the stage. I do think it is a good idea to report the behavior and make up of the audience. Also check out An Unamplified Voice and OperaChic.

So Where Does This Leave Me?

Perhaps I need to be willing to watch short-form Opera videos and performances. Classic Arts Showcase does air those kind of video excerpts but I can’t stay up until 1 a.m., which is when my PBS channel airs the program.

I can continue to check on YouTube for Opera music. This is where I have problems with the current draconian content lockdown. I do believe in right livelihood and, as some of the performers would attest, they need to get paid. Once again the recording industry is busy punishing individuals and not recognizing the need to develop new audiences.

For Opera music that means making a few of artists work available so that we can see what you have. Engagement. A little introduction that could lead to a chic chat?

I’m not asking the Industry to have an open buffet. Tell me why Callas is the bomb diggity of Opera and show the woman in performance. If you don’t want this to be a dying art form then a little more adaptation on your part is required. There should be a better effort to help newbies discover why an artist is important and help me locate new performers.

I am a Contributing Editor at Blogher where this post first appeared.

Monday, October 19, 2009

National Novel Writing Month Coming Up

Yeah, I'm gonna get right on that as novel soon as we can confirm that 36 hour day that start on Friday afternoons. I got a couple of books in me but I can honestly tell you not a one of them will see the light of day this year.

It ain't gonna happen. But for those of you game enough to get pump happy with the words, well, I salute you.

From a distance cuz somebody needs to cheer you folks along the route. In case you hadn't heard it is coming around once again in November. Yep, November 1st is National Novel Writing Month.

This is Chris introducing the members of the team:

So whether you are a lead and wood pulped scratcher or a keyboard jockey blessings and happy communion with 50,000 or more words that you will transform into stories.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Janelle Monae - Opening A New Music Box

I'll fess up to it. I don't go looking for new music because I don't know where to go. All the music genres are on lock down. There are assumptions made that I will not like a certain type of music because I am x and a quarter years old.

Not true. Wait, I am x and quarter years old. What I mean to say is you shouldn't make assumptions on what I will like and not like based on the Friday Freakout. I was siting in my chair scoping out the Blue Microphone web site. I saw this woman's photo and I clicked on it.

This is Janelle Monae and Many Moons.

Yes, I know. little flavor of Outkast, little touch of MJ but she is her own voice and persona. Janelle is walking forward on her own beat.

If you want to dive deeper check out her website.

For The Record:

I like atonal music. Try finding those suckers on the radio any more. I like songs with good stories. I like song that are not love songs. I miss Dr. Demento. I also miss Fat Larry's Band.

Creativity, good. Banality and over sampled because you don't know more than five years of music history, bad. Banality because you have been told that disrespecting other men and women is the only path to fame and fortune, sickening.

And just as I understand you might not like some of what I like and I might not appreciate all that you bring to the table there is a nexus point where those of us who want to support diversity in music join together and say, "rock it out baby, take us to the next level."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Because The Night on the Finally Friday Freakout

I first saw Patti Smith photo on a book cover. I bought a book of her poetry. I was in a mainline inject it into my veins mode of poetry so this was a good fit. I could read it on the bus. I could sneak and read it in class.

I could lie in bed and try to figure out what was she talking about because there were patches in my cultural and sexual education. I was trying to understand. I didn’t get the pronoun confusion.

I knew nothing about the Punk scene. Wasn’t a blip on the radar at the time. That came later with Wendy O. Williams. I wouldn’t have understood Punk music anyway. With Wendy it was more about female emancipation. Patti wrote and sang from the heart and guts.

Patti Smith, I understood. The alienation. The need to write. Being different and searching for the other. Then when you find that person the realities of being with that person can be more than you can stand but you go for it anyway.

Love is an endurance test of your sanity at times. Still there is the night and occasional sanctuaries of mutual cooperation. This is a version of Because The Night with Patti rocking the lead.

Can a woman be heard with her voice and a guitar? What do I know now that I didn’t know then? How this song still resonates where I am at this moment?

What if we step forward in time to hear her sing it as a middle age woman? Does the need for love and sanctuary have any more or less meaning?

Too many questions with names for answers.

For more information, check out Patti Smith's website and find out what she is currently doing and thinking. To find out just how influential this woman has been to poets and rockers check out her Wikipedia page.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Funny or Die Health Insurance Parody PSA

This video is from take on health insurance companies. You can find it at Funny or Die but I saw it at Pam's Coffee Conversations.

I'll keep saying this, I don't want health insurance reform. I want health care access and reform. I'd prefer a single payer option.

It seems this is gonna be a knock down drag out fight for the most minimal coverage Americans can hope to get.

I'm still working my way back to positivity so, go figure. I also have a cold. Not the flu. I am one cranky woman at this point.

Scuze me while I swig some NiteQuill.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pride and Joy on the Finally Friday Freakout

It is time for some attitudinal adjustment. Need to hit some musical therapy for I head to the Salt Mine. Just heard the news about Prez-O and the Nobel Prize.

Speaking of sharp dressed men, this is the beloved Marvin Gaye.

There will be questions. I have questions. These questions are valid but ultimately not important. The shear fact that some media pundits will be hysterical in anger about the President winning a peace prize is reward enough for me.

I'm gonna do my best to watch the ceremony. I do like watching a sharp dressed man taking a stroll.

Too hip, gotta go.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Kitsch Factor - Where Do You Keep Your Velvet Painting?

Art is subjective; it can be quantified as being beautiful, inspirational or for the early painters a form of reporting the events of the day. Kitsch is more like syrup on top of ice cream. It is of the heart, the emotions and a strong dose of guilty pleasures. There are times when it is hard to tell what is art and what is kitsch.

Once upon a time my high school class made the pilgrimage to a museum of art. We saw works of the masters. We were silent and respectful, nodding our heads when the Docent pointed out why Van Gogh was a great painter.  Then we walked into an exhibit of Marcel Duchamp.

Marcel walked a path of re-invention. The first thing i saw was a spotless white urinal. The second work was a knockoff of the Mona Lisa with the French phonetic letters beneath the portrait that spelled out “She has a hot ass.”  We laughed and asked questions of the beet red Docent. “How is this art?”, “Why did he do this?”, “Isn’t this disrespectful?”

From Marcel we were led into Salvador Dali and then into the world of the Surrealists. For me, I had found my people. I continue to go to art museums but I remember that first trip as a life marker. There are some who define art as something high and inaccessible to the masses.

Some would say that Marcel and others like him are nothing more than upper level kitsch. Not me. Art with a sense of playfulness and humor gets me every time. It is the path not taken that can lead to discoveries within yourself.

Now I could show you really great artistic pieces. But that would be too easy. In order to know if something is good maybe we should spend time looking at really questionable but appealing works of Kitsch.

What Is Kitsch?

The traditional meaning was tacky or low quality art. Art that is mass produced or plays on sentiments or emotions rather than the quality of the work. That definition doesn’t really work anymore because there are multi-million dollar works of art in museums that are tacky and/or low quality. There is also art work produced with recycled materials that are truly great works.


For help in understanding Kitsch, let us take a brief visit with the priestess of Kitsch Culture, Ms. Allie Willis, and her Museum of Kitsch. Kitsch is the desert between crap and “that is interesting, let me see more.”  It is a pop cultural connection to a past or a rocking present that you want to keep for posterity.

There is something about Kitsch that grabs a hold of person and requires a life commitment of co-habitation. Clair Smythe at World of Kitsch painted her kitchen a kind of green I’d never thought I’d see again. It has since been changed but my lord what possessed her? The items in her collection. 

Kitsch stuff makes you do things no one else wants to think about, let alone thinking about painting the wall in your kitchen Slime Green. But the Naked Woodland Nymph? That totally rocks.

Over at Kitschy Kitschy Coo a pattern is starting to emerge. There are those that want to join greatness so they create a cross stitching the Sistine Chapel.  Or finding a great buy that you can’t leave at a garage sale, like bowling pin animals. Kitsch might have something to do with latent need to hunt and gather.

Kitsch isn’t just about stuff. It can be the stuff that invokes memories. Over at Kitsch Slapped there is a poster of Andy Gibb. Now I personally didn’t have a thing for Andy, my attention was probably on any man with a good size Afro. But I can understand the attraction and the need for a sexual icon to help inspire person self-exploration.  Deanna transitions from the poster to her reading a book, the Summer of 42, that helped her define what is and is not acceptable for her to experience.

The Need to Collect

I think we all have a need to keep something precious. For me it is my books and my record albums. I have to have them. Even though I had with no way to play them for 20 or more years. Recently I found an affordable LP to mp3 turntable. Doesn’t mean that I will ever get rid of my albums, it just means I won’t have to remember what a song sounds like anymore. It is my connection to a different time and place.

Shelagh Staunton at Weaving the Web muses a bit about this need:

Ownership is comfort and empowerment, but at what point does the scale tip in the other direction and the possessor discovers that he or she has become the possessed? Collections give us meaning and identity but only so long as we remain in control. In A.S. Byatt's Possession (aptly titled for this blog entry) the academic Mortimer Cropper is so determined to obtain the material artifacts of a poet's life that he sacrifices his own professional integrity in his quest to do so. It is the act of collecting- the chase- that takes precedence over the value of the objects themselves.

Over at Frieze Art Fair there is a recording on the psychology of collecting with an psychologist, an art collector and director of a museum.  You can listen to the podcast or download the mp3 where they talk about people spending time, money and resources on collecting art and other items of desire.

Do I own the books and albums or do they own me? The albums, I control them. The books have dominion.  Thankfully there is no room to start any other type of collection. But if I see that Black Velvet Elvis, he's mine.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

If You Had A Choice of Colors on the Finally Friday Freakout

You know some Fridays it is all I can do to crawl back to the cave and hug the nearest rock. I hug that rock to keep me from throwing it as the stupidity of the week. I woke up and the Muse on Duty said "Curtis Mayfield."

I knew just which song too. An agape type love song that asks us the questions "who do we love or hate and why?" I wish I could find a version with Mr. Mayfield on lead but this is a might fine version of If You Had A Choice of Colors.

In 2008 there seemed to be a DVD produced about Curtis Mayfield and Impressions. This seems to be a trailer/commercial or the DVD.

If you happen to see a copy please let me know what store or website you found it. Legit of course, no bootleg.