Sunday, March 28, 2010

Killing Trees

Around this time every year, an organization near my town puts together an outstanding book sale. I have been a loyal attendee for at least eight years now and look forward to it so much that when I missed the opening day and the second day this year, I actually woke up at 4AM on Friday worried that I would miss the rest of the sale.

The last day of the sale is called "box day". Pay ten bucks and take as many books as will fit in a box. You can also pay five bucks for a grocery bagful of books. This year, between "box day" and "half price day", I scored about 40 books. Not that impressive. I saw people - including several illiterate, Facebook-obsessed teenagers - walking out with at least a hundred books each, wearing a proud shit eating grin on their faces.

(Side bar: Just how will the Kindle and the iPad affect this book sale in, say, ten years? I don't want to know.)

So there was this girl of about thirteen or fourteen, clearly a book nerd, walking out with a pile of books large enough to impress the guys at the Library of Congress. As she struggled with the door, in walks this schmuck who takes a look at her stash of books and says loudly "bet you don't get out much, do you?"

I had half a mind to clobber him on his head with my newly-acquired hardcover copy of Translations from the Chinese (thanks, Falstaff - reading those Chinese poems on your blog got me in the mood for more Chinese poetry) but it was at the very bottom of the bag. (The most accessible book was a slim paperback on Linguistics and that would have been no good.)

Upon returning home, wife and I did the obligatory how-do-I-make-the-time-to-read-all-this** and the oh-shit-I-already-own-this-book. Who cares. I plan on not getting out much for the next one hundred and seventeen years. That, and not showering, should give me enough time to read everything in the collection.

**This used to be a practical concern. Now it's turned into a terrifying meditation on mortality. Oh Lord, you gave us such short lives and economically-priced books.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Howlin' Quasi-Wolf

Well, this may not exactly be feral, but it certainly is an unorthodox parenting technique*. (Tabula Rasa: please take note.) After you are done watching that video a bunch of times, watch its shorter sequel.

YouTube People, please put up that video of a sixteen-foot boa constrictor cuddling up with a baby. Thanks!

*By no means am I disapproving of this method. It's just that I am jealous of that baby.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Music's Master Photographer"

R.I.P, Jim Marshall.

Rock's "Golden Age" needed someone with just the right artistic vision and Marshall was that man.

Two of my favorite photographs: The Beatles walking to the stage at Candlestick Park. Then that legendary shot of Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop. Damn, they are all great photographs.


Twitter updates from WikiLeaks.

What's up?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The T.A.M.I Show

Go-Go dancers movin' and a groovin' to "Maybelline". Just one reason to watch The T.A.M.I Show.

Often considered one of the greatest rock 'n roll concert films, "The T.A.M.I Show" makes its first (full length) appearance on DVD this Tuesday. (link to NYT) A trailer for the film as well as videos of some performances from the show are available on YT. (The voice-over in that trailer, for some reason, mentions John Lennon's name when introducing Gerry and the Pacemakers. Strange.)

I am most curious about James Brown's performance (which receives hyperbolic praise from fans and music writers) as well as the Stones who were, infamously, booked to perform after James Brown. But there's also Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Beach Boys...and Go-Go dancers.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ronnie Be Good

Ronnie is a street musician from Botswana and trust me, you want to watch this little video. Four strings, open tunings and completely unorthodox fingering: if that's not rock 'n roll, what is?

Note to self: next time the urge to buy more guitar gear pops in your head, remember it's *not* the instrument.

Link via Metafilter.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Still Life

Woman in blue scrubs talking loudly on her cellphone and eating a banana. (I think it's physically impossible to be mad at someone while eating a banana.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stormy Weather

Two recorded announcements from the police last evening: "All residents in the area are advised to stay indoors...". I was hoping they would say "...because a group of zombies are loose in your town". It would be so much more entertaining to deal with issues like the undead. Instead, the message warned us about how the storm had knocked out several trees and power lines.

We were without power for a whole minute. I have never felt so...powerless. You have not lived through a catastrophe if you haven't looked up at your microwave clock and seen its display go black. Such a stark reminder of mankind's foolish infatuation with LCD. I finally understood what Billie Holiday meant when she sang "life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere".

But with adversity comes strength (or, as in my case, a desire to consume raisins coated with chocolate) and in our darkest hour, we discover new shining facets to ourselves. Yesterday, for example, the wife and I discovered the lost art of conversation in that one moderately dark minute:

"The power's out"
"The power's out?"
"The power's out"

Energized by this interaction, we then walked up to a window and looked at trees and plants staggering under the storm's assault. (They do bend with the rainfall. Never learn botany from a folk duo from New York.) Something about standing at a window during a storm and talking to someone makes me feel like a character in a book. Every word you utter is a symbol, every gesture is loaded with significance and every rain-lashed tree is a metaphor for struggle, loss, love and longing. If only we could add blurbs to the back of our conversations. "Stirring!", "Terrifying", "A minor triumph!" and "We may have found a new Proust!".

The power was soon restored and I continued my eternal online quest to find that one website to keep me entertained forever. That's when it struck me. What our earth needs most is a hybrid of laptop batteries and zombies. So we get batteries that never die.

Epiphanies, memorable conversations, creative solutions to our energy crisis...there's so much to be learned from Nature, if only we kept our eyes and ears open.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Werner Herzog Is A Plastic Bag

The character of the plastic bag in "Plastic Bag", a short film by director Ramin Bahrani (of Man Push Cart fame), is voiced by Werner Herzog.

Yeah, trippy.

Mr. Bahrani, would you consider releasing just the audio track to the video?

Dear Morans, Please Consider Getting A Brain

Someone I know emails me a link to an online petition addressed to an Indian book publisher.

The petition urges the publisher to withdraw this "offensive and misleading book on India and Hindu history" from "worldwide bookshops/markets/Universities/libraries" and apologize for having published the book.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Mr. Justice?

If your house were to be burned down by a pyromaniac, would it make you buy him a lifetime's supply of blowtorches and gasoline? Probably not.

So what could this possibly mean? What reasons might there be for a victim to marry the rapist?